New Mexico sports betting launched in the Fall of 2018 when tribal gaming operators began opening retail sportsbooks at their casinos. New Mexico did not pass legislation to legalize sports betting formally. Still, tribal gaming operators contend there is no need to wait because their existing compacts with the state cover sports betting.

New Mexico authorities have declined to take a firm position on the issue of sports betting and appear content to allow tribal casinos to operate sportsbooks. Online sports betting in New Mexico remains prohibited, however, as there is no argument that additional legislation would be needed to authorize online sportsbooks.

State of New Mexico Sports Betting Overview

The tribes are able to offer sports betting on tribal lands because of the language in their compacts with the state. Unlike other states that went through committee hearings, legislative discussions, or voter approval, New Mexico sports betting is based on tribal compacts.

With such a broad definition of the types of games that are legal, the tribes elected to move forward with on-site sports betting. The last legislative action to make sports betting legal in New Mexico occurred in 2021. The New Mexico Legislature considered HB 101 — a move to allow the state’s racinos to offer sports betting — for a brief period. However, after a few referrals, no further action occurred on the proposal.

Since then, the only sports betting-related proposals in the Legislature have involved commissioning studies to examine gambling in the state. These proposals have largely been non-starters, with the most recent entry dying unceremoniously in 2022. It does not appear as if there is anything new to report for sports betting at the state level.

State of New Mexico Sports Betting Timeline

The story of New Mexico sports betting is neither long nor terribly complex. The five aforementioned tribal locations have opened books, and there has been no significant effort on the part of the state to expand sports betting. So, while time has passed and people in New Mexico have been betting on sports, there’s not been much to report.

2022: No tribes are publicly indicating their desire to open a physical sportsbook, and there’s no bill on file to legalize sports betting, either. So, for the time being, the five existing sportsbooks in the state are the only game(s) in town.

2021: The most significant attempt at legalizing sports betting appears in the New Mexico Legislature. HB 101 would make sports betting, both online and retail, a legal activity at the five racetracks in the state. The proposal is also something of an omnibus bill, with additional proposals to allow table games and poker at those facilities, too. The bill — the New Mexico Lottery Education Assistance Act — has four prominent cosponsors. It fails to gain any ground, however, and stalls out in the House Education Committee.

2020: The Navajo Nation indicates that it is planning to open a sportsbook at one or more of its three casinos in New Mexico in 2020. Reports in January show that the tribe has definite plans for sports betting at Fire RockFlowing Waters, and Northern Edge. Unfortunately, those plans take a backseat when Arizona, New Mexico’s more populous neighbor to the west, begins to get serious about sports betting. As the Navajo have a location in Arizona, the momentum in that state pushes New Mexico to the back burner. No moves to open a sportsbook at the tribe’s three New Mexico casinos have occurred since then, and the Navajo have struggled to keep the facilities open in the face of COVID-19 worries.

2019: For a time, the Sportsbook at the Star is the lone book operating in the state. Presumably, other tribes are waiting to see if state law enforcement plans to halt the activity in Bernalillo. When no crackdown appears, four other tribes open retail sportsbooks at their casinos. The first is the book at Buffalo Thunder, which opens on the Pueblo of Pojoaque’s tribal lands in May. After that is the Mescalero Apache sportsbook at Inn of the Mountain Gods in July, and the August debuts at the Isleta Casino Resort and the Route 66 Casino. To date, all five sportsbooks remain active.

2018: The demise of PASPA in May opens the door for sports betting to become legal on a state-by-state basis. The New Mexico Legislature does not indicate its interest, as no lawmakers have filed bills to initiate a move toward legal sports betting in the Land of Enchantment. The Pueblo of Santa Ana Tribe decides that there’s no need to wait and, citing broad gambling permissions under the tribe’s compact with the state opens New Mexico’s first sportsbook at the Santa Ana Star Casino in October.