New Mexico Becomes Sixth State to Launch Sports Betting

New Mexico Becomes Sixth State to Launch Sports Betting

New Mexico has become the sixth state to start offering regulated sports betting after the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel in Bernalillo officially began accepting its first sports wagers on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Aside from Nevada, which has offered the full range of sports betting products since 1992, the Land of Enchantment now becomes the fifth state to open up a sports wagering market since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in May, joining Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia in becoming the industry’s early movers.

“We are extremely proud of the fact that Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel is the first tribal casino in the state of New Mexico, and one of the first in the nation to launch a sportsbook,” commented the hotel’s CEO John Cirrincione.

New Mexico Gambling

New Mexico has a well established casino market, which consists of 15 tribal venues and 5 commercial racinos, according to data published by Casino City’s Indian Gaming Industry Report. The latest study shows that the venues generated a combined $861.6 million in gaming revenue for 2016, while commercial casino saw their business slump by 2.1% to $227.5 million in 2017.

Santa Ana Star

Opened in 1993, the Santa Ana Star casino is among the state’s three most lucrative operations, and features a 109,000 square feet gaming space offering 1,475 slot machines, and 20 table games, as well as a dedicated poker room. Recently, the Pueblo of Santa Ana tribe, which runs the casino, teamed up with Las Vegas-based company USBookmaking to offer sport wagering, with the first bets taken around midday.

The casino has four windows and two self-service kiosks for taking bets, with its operation open daily during the week from noon to 8 p.m, and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m at the weekend. Sports wagering in the state, however, is currently limited to just on-site betting at Santa Ana Star, making online sports betting illegal in the state for the moment. Furthermore, while bets are now being taken on a range of sports, including professional and college sporting events, wagers are not presently being taken on local teams, such as the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State.

“Although we believe there would be interest on betting on local teams, we believe it best not to take bets on these teams,” Cirrincione explained.

On Tuesday, the sports book officially launched with a $30 bet for the Houston Astros to beat the Boston Red Sox, although the latter team actually ended up winning the match by a score of 8-6.

Tribal Sports Betting

The Pueblo of Santa Ana now become just the third Native American tribe to offer sports betting in the country, the others being the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe in Laughlin, Nevada, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Interestingly, the surprise development to open a sports book in New Mexico came even before lawmakers had a chance to enact suitable legislation to regulate sports betting within state borders. This may also explain why the industry was launched without any great fanfare, with the media not allowed to cover its opening ceremony, and only a very modest crowd in attendance.

AG’s Approval

Nevertheless, the Pueblo of Santa Ana tribe is of the opinion that sports betting qualifies as class III gaming under its tribal compact with the state. Fortunately, the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General agrees with them, too, and last week gave them the go-ahead to launch their sports book. As David Carl, press secretary to Attorney General Hector Balderas, commented at the time:

“Sports betting at the Santa Ana Star Casino is governed by the Pueblo of Santa Ana Gaming Regulatory Commission. As such, we will closely monitor New Mexico’s tribal gaming compacts and work with the legislature for proper statutory and regulatory oversight to require responsible gaming and enhanced integrity to create an even playing field for all.”

While the Santa Ana Star casino is the first to start offering sports betting, it appears that numerous other tribal casinos are currently also in the process of launching their own sportsbooks in New Mexico.