New Mexico Gambling Laws

New Mexico Gambling LawsUntil 1990, gambling in New Mexico had a long history of horse racing, but little else. The 1990’s brought sweeping change when Governor Gary Johnson took office. Johnson initiated legalized Tribal and Commercial Casinos, Racinos, and created a state lottery.

New Mexico gambling laws now offers a suite of gaming options, including horse racing online, lottery, poker, and charitable gambling.  The state has even explored legalizing online gambling options.

New Mexico’s legal standing on Fantasy sports, sports betting laws and online casinos etc. is outlined below

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos Yes No
Fantasy-Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports No No
Poker Yes No
Horse-Racing Yes Yes
Lottery Yes No
Charitable-Gambling Yes No

New Mexico Gambling Tax Rate

New Mexico has a 6% state tax on gambling winnings.

Large wins attract Federal taxes.

New Mexico Gambling Age

Gambling Type Age
Casinos 21
DFS 18
Horse-Racing 18
Lottery 18
Charitable-Gambling No Limit

Sports Betting Laws in New Mexico

In May 2018, New Jersey won its court case challenge against the Federal’s Government imposition ban on Sports Betting Laws in the USA. With its ground-breaking ruling, the Supreme Court struck down the Federal law to end the federal prohibition on nationwide sports betting and handed the decision making on legal sports betting back to each state to decide for themselves.

As they were prepared for the ruling, New Jersey legalized sports betting almost immediately (thereby joining already long legal Nevada) and Mississippi, Delaware and West Virginia have already joined the states enjoying the sports betting party throughout 2018. New York and Rhode Island are expected to legalize sports betting for their citizens and many visitors sometime later in 2018.

Sports Betting in New Mexico

Currently, New Mexico has no other sports betting options beyond DFS, horse and greyhound racing or bizarrely and uniquely, bicycle racing (grandfathered as legal when the Federal Government handed down the PASPA laws in 1992). To this point in time, you are unable to place a bet on the Arizona Diamondbacks, the New Jersey Devils or the New York Jets in New Mexico.

At this point in its history, New Mexico is unlikely to introduce legislation to legalize sports betting soon, but stranger things have happened. If New Mexico’s lawmakers and the powerful Tribal Casino sector suddenly find common ground, then legalization could very well be just around the corner.

Neither side of that fence are against sports betting, however, the complications of finding a revenue-sharing model that suits both sides make it quite difficult to carve out any new gambling expansion, including legal sports betting in New Mexico.

Online Sports Betting in New Mexico

New Mexico does not specifically authorize, prohibit or regulate on online sports betting at all. The State Government currently has a lot of other issues (most specifically, new agreements between the Tribal Casinos and the State need to be negotiated) around sports betting keeping them occupied and sports betting online is towards the end of an extensive list.

In the meantime, (as in many other states) New Mexico’s gambling laws do not specifically need to determine a position on gambling online, as anything not covered off under the laws as a legal form of gambling in New Mexico is considered to be illegal without question;

“Internet gambling is expressly prohibited by Federal law. This falls under 31 U.S.C.A. §5361, Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The State of New Mexico, and the New Mexico Gaming Control Board do not regulate, license, control or in ANY way sanction, endorse or approve any Internet or on-line gambling, betting activity, wagering or any aspect thereof. Any statement, reference or opinion to the contrary is wrong. Such activity is strictly prohibited and not authorized, approved or sanctioned in any manner by New Mexico regulatory authorities.”

Meanwhile, online players can legally play real money DFS competitions in the state and gamble online on horse and greyhound racing without running afoul of the state laws of New Mexico.

Casinos in New Mexico

14 Tribes throughout New Mexico operate at least one casino each in the state, and at last count, there are 26 land-based casinos in the state including two commercial casinos.

New Mexico’s Land-Based Casinos

There are 24 Tribal casinos and two commercial New Mexico casinos currently operating in the state. These New Mexico casinos offer popular casino games like slots (almost 18000 slots are offered in the state), video poker, and almost table games (including blackjack, live poker, craps) all approved by the New Mexico Gaming Control Board.

Smaller New Mexico casinos may also offer only video poker and slot games.

Online Casinos in New Mexico

As previously mentioned, New Mexico is not required to specifically prohibit online casinos. Any form of unlicensed and unregulated gambling is considered invalid under New Mexico Law.

All online players in the State of New Mexico should play LEGAL real money online betting options ONLY (DFS and Horse-and-Greyhound Racing). The state’s residents and visitors should avoid playing ANY online casinos (either off-shore or U.S. based online casinos) until New Mexico facilitates online casinos legalization.

Horse Racing Betting in New Mexico

Horse Racing in New Mexico is administered by the New Mexico Racing Commission and they are responsible for approving racing events, animal welfare, simulcasting and management licensing of the state racetracks.

Track Side: New Mexico is home to six racetracks and races are held throughout the year. Simulcasting of live events hosted at other U.S. tracks and international locations and associated betting facilities are available on non-race days.

Horse racing tracks in New Mexico are also permitted to host slot and video poker machines in addition to their racing betting options.

Off-Track Betting (OTB): OTB betting is offered at only one off-track location in New Mexico.

Online Betting on Horse Racing in New Mexico: Online racebooks are available to residents of New Mexico. All are easy to use, offering small first deposit requirements and online betting easily from your smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, other mobile device or home computer. Those over the age of 18 in New Mexico can access online horse racing betting sites that offer odds on all popular thoroughbred racing in the U.S. and major worldwide horse racing meetings.

New Mexico’s Daily Fantasy Sports Law

Federal lawmakers in the United States have ruled that Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) competitions are not gambling at all. Federal jurisdictions have determined DFS are skills-based games, not games of chance. Under U.S. Federal law, each state has been encouraged to declare their own position on the legality of DFS competitions.

New Mexico’s lawmakers have been non-committal on DFS legalization for several years now. Meanwhile, all major DFS sites accept customers from New Mexico based on their interpretation that New Mexico’s definition of gambling does not include fantasy sports, and players resident in or visiting New Mexico can sign-up for DFS competitions without legal impediment.

What are DFS and how are they played?

DFS remains a mystery to many in the United States despite almost 60 million regularly playing nationwide each week. What exactly is DFS?

DFS betting is not like ‘traditional’ sports betting for a win or loss. In the DFS scenario, you draft a team of players from the league of your choice. The NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, PGA Golf, MMA and college basketball and football are all on offer.

Every pro athlete is priced determined on his/her perceived market value in their respective sports league by the DFS companies. Their DFS market value is usually based on the stats of their seasonal and all-time career performances. You will need to manage your budget, picking and choosing wisely (less expensive stars and more mid-priced consistent performers) to form a well-balanced and affordable team.

Once your team is selected, see how the outcomes of the weekend’s games play out. Your virtual team’s real-life players collect stats (TDs, strikeouts, goals, points, completions, hits, rebounds etc.) in the real-world games and consequently, your fantasy league team accumulates points online.

The person whose team accumulates the most points, wins their DFS league.

Prize money is accumulated from the money earnt from millions of player’s minimal entry fees of just few dollars for each competition.

Season-long, daily or weekly DFS competition winners can potentially receive as much as $1 million per competition, per major league.

Poker Laws in New Mexico

In New Mexico, Live Poker (most major forms including Omaha, No Limit Texas Hold’em, No Limit Hold’em, Crazy Pineapple etc.) can be enjoyed at Tribal and Commercial Casinos. Video Poker betting options are also available across New Mexico’s casinos.

Note – social poker games are expressly prohibited under New Mexico law and harsh penalties can result if charged. Best avoided.

Online Poker Laws in New Mexico

Online Poker is prohibited in New Mexico and no law is on the books for discussion in the State Legislature. Please see the above sections ‘Online Sports Betting in New Mexico’ and ‘Online Casinos in New Mexico’ for full details.

New Mexico eSports Betting

When it is finally realized as a legal option for New Mexico’s residents, eSports betting in the state will transform the gambling options available. A new generation of ‘family-friendly’ forms of sports betting, without any murky legal histories will be led by eSports betting.

Why are ‘eSports’ growing so quickly now?

eSports (‘competitive gaming’ in the most popular multi-player online video games like Starcraft II, League of Legends, Call of Duty, CS:GO and others) are a big thing these days.

A huge scene has grown from eSports early history in the underground gaming community to become a mainstream sport, and it’s growing rapidly. Professional teams and players compete in a worldwide series of tournaments that offer enormous prize pools worth millions of dollars. Tens-of-thousands-of-people attend to watch live in packed stadiums, and there are many more millions more watching online around the world. Consequently, eSports betting is growing rapidly now as a result of the exponential improvements in live video streaming technology and the resulting huge viewership numbers.

An increasing number of international sportsbooks now offer competitive betting markets across all the major network of global eSports tournaments.

As soon as there is a legalized sportsbook is offered in New Mexico, expect eSports betting markets to be among the first legal betting markets framed by the bookies.

Benefits of Legal Gambling to New Mexico

  • Tribal and Commercial Casinos and racetracks employ more than 12 000 people in New Mexico.
  • Gambling supplied more than $156 million for state’s budget income in 2017 and annually provides New Mexico with revenue streams to fund improvements in education, daycare and health programs, veteran’s care, policing, fire protection and many parks, roads, bridges among other infrastructure projects.
  • New Mexico’s extensive and powerful Tribal Casino industry has created hundreds of jobs and an overall increase for First Nations people living on Tribal lands.
  • Legal gambling in a regulated and licensed legal gambling industry provides greater player protection and security for gamblers in the state of New Mexico.
  • Protections from illegal gambling operators are enshrined under New Mexico law through legal gambling guidelines and regulations.

History of Gambling in New Mexico

1946; Horse Racing Betting legalized in New Mexico.

1978; Charitable Bingo legalized in the state of New Mexico.

1995; New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson signs agreement with 13 Tribes to offer Native American Casinos in the state.

1996; State Lottery begins in New Mexico with ‘scratch-off card’ method and later extended to include Powerball and all the major inter-state lotteries. Lottery ticket profits go to fund educational scholarships and other charities.

1997; New Mexico Gaming Control Board created by State Statute and first funded and began work a year later. The Board takes over the administration of betting in New Mexico’s Horse Racing Gambling Industry.

Early 2000’s to present; Tribal Casinos and the State of New Mexico in an almost continual disagreement on the ‘revenue-sharing’ model of the original tribal compact agreements.

2011; First Non-Tribal Commercial Casino in New Mexico approved for downtown Albuquerque.



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