New Mexico Gambling Expansion Bill Goes One Step Forward

House Bill 101 which proposes the expansion of gambling in New Mexico was introduced on Tuesday this week at the start of the state’s legislative season. The bill proposes the legalization of online and retail sports betting and table games at the state’s horse race tracks.

NM Gambling Expansion to Fund College Scholarship Programs

In light of the start of the 60-day legislative season in New Mexico, a bill proposing the legalization of online and retail sports betting as well as table games at the state’s race tracks was introduced. Titled “New Mexico Lottery Ed Assistance Act“, House Bill 101 was introduced by Representatives Raymundo Lara and Phelps Anderson. Furthermore, the bill was also sponsored by Randall T. Pettigrew and Steven P. Neville.

Since the establishment of the Lottery Scholarship Fund in 1996, it has funded the state’s college scholarship programs with gambling revenue. However, the fund can no longer cover fully the needs of the scholarship program and House Bill 101 aims to fix that.

By enabling sportsbooks and table games such as poker, craps, and blackjack at New Mexico’s horse racing tracks, an estimate of $40 million is expected to be generated. Out of that total, some $15 million are expected to be allocated to the scholarship fund and the remaining to aid the General Fund.

The Bill Proposes 5-Year Licenses for Table Games and Sports Betting

If the gambling expansion proposal is accepted it would allow table games at racetracks in New Mexico. HB 101 proposes six operating licenses for table games as well as six for sports betting. According to the proposal, licenses for both table games and sports betting are to be valid for 5 years.

Operators that would like to apply for a license must pay $50,000 for the application fee and an annual $50,000 renewal fee. Furthermore, a fee of $10,000 is applicable for a management service provider license. A renewal fee of $5,000 is payable annually as well. The New Mexico Lottery Authority is expected to be in charge of regulation and licensing.

Sports Betting – Legally Controversial Topic in New Mexico

According to the bill, exchange wagering, parlays, over-under, money line, pools, and straight bets fall under “sports wagering”. An exception is made for the pari-mutual bets which are already authorized under the Horse Racing Act. The current version of HB 101 does not propose the legalization of online table games, electronic table games, video lottery, push cards, or other similar games.

Currently, sports betting in New Mexico is not legalized nor illegal. This is because the state laws do not explicitly prohibit the activity, which according to the New Mexico Tribal operators means that the activity can be offered. With that in mind, given the sovereign status of the Tribal operators, back in 2018, the Pueblo of Santa Ana Tribe was the first Tribal operator to launch the activity. Since then, 4 more tribal casinos have introduced sports betting.

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