When you sign-up through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more >

The Unilateral Legalization of Sports Betting in New Mexico “Complicated”

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated December 21, 2022
8 min read
  • Retail Sports Betting in New Mexico Legal in Tribal Casinos, Mobile is Not

  • NM State Senator Antonio Maestas a Longtime Advocate of Legal Sports Betting

  • Next New Mexico State Legislative Session Convenes January 17, 2023

Unilateral Legalization New Mexico Sports Betting

Sports gamblers in New Mexico have limited choices when it comes to placing wagers since only the retail option is available with mobile still not legal in that state, for reasons that are “complicated” according to a recent report in the Rio Rancho Observer (RRO) of Albuquerque.

Currently (by law), Land of Enchantment bettors can only place their bets at any of the 24 tribal land-based casinos since those are Class III gaming institutions and the state’s Gaming Control Board holds no jurisdiction over them, which makes legalizing sports betting in that state tricky.

That’s because, according to the RRO report, the state of New Mexico currently receives casino revenue sharing from those native tribes as part of negotiated contracts that both parties have signed years ago, last updated in 2015, those agreements keeping any new deals off the table.

If state lawmakers were to somehow unilaterally legalize sports betting without renegotiating those treaties, those existing compacts would give native tribes the right to challenge any new laws and, worse, withhold their casino revenue sharing, a problematic scenario to be avoided.

At least that’s the goal of state Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas from Albuquerque, who wants to reopen a legislative discussion on the topic.

Over thirty states have already legalized, regulated, and launched their own sports betting market, now taxing that revenue and redirecting that new income stream into funding projects that benefit residents, an intriguing financial venture to Sen. Maestas, who told the RRO:

“I think there’s the political will to amend the gating humpbacks to allow sports betting simply because they weren’t contemplated when the latest compacts were negotiated.”

Maestas seems to understand the delicate nature of the legal sports betting proposition, especially in terms of the mobile option that could take away action from those tribal interests, which in turn could cost New Mexico money if those revenue shares begin to wane or vanish.

There would have to be a two-pronged negotiation process – one involving the native tribes regarding the existing gambling compacts that are in place, the other having to do with state legislators who would have to pave the way for new sports betting laws to get signed.

The second part of the debate can start in a month.

Next New Mexico State Legislative Session Convenes January 17, 2023

In the state of New Mexico, the Legislature holds 60- day sessions in odd-numbered years and 30-day sessions in even-numbered years, so it no doubt becomes difficult to get new items onto the agenda including a potential legal sports betting bill.

Since those ‘short sessions’ focus on budgetary concerns, it’s typically only in the ‘full session’ that new legislation is discussed and debated, so it has been a while since New Mexico lawmakers have been able to tackle this sports gambling issue, as Sen. Maestas told RRO:

“I just can’t wait to be in the same room at the same time. You know, it’s been three years since we’ve done that.”

This becomes a story of cooperation and compromise as New Mexico leaders begin to figure out how to keep all affected parties happy, but with so much potential money at stake for everyone, chances are those insiders will figure something out.

Image for Mike Lukas


Mike Lukas

1204 Articles

Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

More info on Mike Lukas
We've been featured on:
espn logo
reuters logo
cbs-news logo
forbes logo
entrepreneur logo
entrepreneur logo
We only list licensed sportsbooks

© Rebel Penguin ApS 2024 (a subsidiary of Gaming Innovation Group Inc.)

We support responsible gambling. 21+ Only. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.

WSN.com is run by iGaming Cloud Inc (a Gaming Innovation Group Subsidiary) and is registered with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) under affiliate vendor ID 89744, with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) under certificate of registration number SWR-000148, approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board as a gaming service provider, under certificate registration number 117656-1, possesses a Vendor Minor sports betting license from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (account number 94414163), granted a vendor registration number VR007603-20-001 by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, an interim Sports Wagering Supplier license, under license number SWS 066, issued by the West Virginia Lottery Commission, a sports betting vendor registration, under registration number #100400, issued by the Director of Gaming Licensing and Investigations of the Virginia Lottery to operate in the State of Virginia, and a Vendor Registration issued by the Sports Wagering Committee of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation.

Advertising disclosure: WSN contains links to online retailers on its website. When people click on our affiliate links and make purchases, WSN earns a commission from our partners, including ESPN and various sportsbooks.