Two New Mexico casinos are now operating sports betting books, but sports betting is not actually sanctioned in New Mexico.
“I think attention has been focused on other issues as opposed to sports betting,” said Alfred Mathewson, a University of New Mexico Law professor.
Mathewson and other legal experts long believed that the state would have to legalize sports betting before it could be done in New Mexico.
After the US Supreme Court’s May 2018 ruling that declared states can make their own laws regarding sports betting, Mathewson expected there would be a focus on sports betting rules this year at the state legislature.
“If it takes off and all the pueblos join in and there’s lots of revenue potential, I think there would be pressure on the state,” said Mathewson.
However, there wasn’t. Of all the hundreds of bills at the Roundhouse this session, none focused on the legalization or rules regarding sports betting. Just this week, a second New Mexico casino announced it would be opening up a sports book, following in the footsteps of the Santa Ana Star Casino.
Buffalo Thunder on the Pojoaque Pueblo now has a sports book. Gaming Today reports it is the only place outside of Nevada that has kiosks for race and sports betting. Other casinos are expected to follow suit.
“It would not surprise me at all if others did follow suite particularly if things continue to go slow and there’s no objection,” said Mathewson.
The pueblos are operating their sports betting books under the belief that sports betting is a ‘Class III’ game, which is allowed under their compact with the New Mexico Gaming Control Board. No one at the state level had spoken about sports betting until now.
“I’ve been very open about all economic activity in the state, requires us to take a look and see if that has more benefits than it does negative outcomes or unintended consequences,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Gov. Lujan Grisham did not speak in favor or against sports betting in the state, but she did say they will be taking a closer look at it.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens and what gets upstairs,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
If the state does come out against sports betting, it could lead to a costly court battle and require changes to the pueblo’s gaming compact.
Gaming records show in 2018, the state made more than $71 million from casinos.