Gaming Laws in New Mexico
1995 was a monumental year for gaming in the state of New Mexico. After failing to strike a deal with the local tribes in 1990 under former Governor Bruce King, the state was able to iron out tribal compacts in 1995 that paved the way for casino gaming throughout the state. In that same year, Governor Gray Johnson also approved of a state lottery to bring lottery gaming to New Mexico
The law not only paved the way for standard casino gaming including slot machines, table games and poker rooms on tribal grounds, but also allowed for horse racing tracks to feature slot machines as well.
Laws Against Gambling
The state of New Mexico defines a “bet” as a “bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance, even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose anything of value specified in the agreement”. Section 30-19.2 classifies making a bet as a form of gambling, which is illegal in the state as a petty misdemeanor.
Bookmaking comes with a more severe penalty. “Receiving, recording or forwarding bets or offers to bet” falls under the category of commercial gambling. Commercial gambling is a fourth degree felony in New Mexico.
Sports Betting in New Mexico
Sports betting is not explicitly mentioned in the New Mexico Statutes, but it would clearly fall under the definition of betting in the state as a wager dependent upon chance even though accompanied by some skill. A petty misdemeanor is among the least serious penalties in the state, but it is still on the record. Bookmaking being graded as a felony is a much more serious crime.
For bettors in New Mexico that want to wager on sports, online betting at an offshore sportsbook is a more convenient and safer option than finding a local bookie. Sportsbooks that are located in other countries do not fall under the federal laws of the United States or under the state laws of New Mexico, and can therefore operate without being subject to punishment by laws against bookmaking.
No resident of New Mexico to date has been charged or prosecuted for betting on sports online. There is also no specific mention of online gambling anywhere in the state's laws. History indicates that New Mexico is pretty lax on enforcing its laws against placing bets, but residents of the state should still be aware that they are on the books before making a decision.
Poker and Casino in New Mexico
Thanks to the tribal compacts signed in 1995, tribal gaming in the state of New Mexico has been around for a while and is still alive and well. Residents and visitors of the state can play many of their favorite table games, slot machines and live poker at one of a handful of different casinos throughout the state.
Slot players can also play slots at “racinos”, which are horse racing tracks that also have slot machines. Table games are not allowed at these locations, but electronic gaming including slots and video poker are available.
While there are poker rooms scattered throughout the state of New Mexico, there aren't too many great options for serious poker players. Even the biggest poker rooms in the state have under 20 tables, limiting the options for players looking for game selection or good tournament play.
More serious poker players may opt to play at an offshore poker room instead. This would fall under the law against betting in New Mexico, but to date this law hasn't been enforced when it comes to residents of the state playing poker online. Neither poker nor online gambling is specifically mentioned in the New Mexico Statutes.
Other Gaming Options in New Mexico
Horse racing has a rich history in the state of New Mexico dating back to 1947 when horse betting began at Ruidoso Park, then known as Hollywood Park. The state has five active tracks where bettors can bet on both live racing and simulcast racing from around the country.
New Mexico Lottery
The New Mexico Lottery offers scratch-off tickets, in-state draw games and multi-state draw games such as the Powerball, Mega Millions and Hot Lotto. Quicksters is a popular game among New Mexico residents that features a $5 Red Hot Jackpot Bingo game in which the numbers to draw to are printed right on the ticket.