Is Sports Betting Legal in New Mexico?

Sports, and subsequently sports betting, are pretty popular in the state of New Mexico. This is kind of an oddity, since the state doesn’t sport a professional team. But they have rooting interests in professional franchises from nearby locales, one collegiate program of national interest and, most importantly, count themselves among the states that have been trying to legalize on-site sports betting.

New Mexico Sports Betting Law

Only four states are currently allowed to accept sports wagers at their casinos. New Mexico isn’t one of them. Online and group gambling are still rampant, though—something the local government acknowledges. There are also plenty of casinos and racinos residents have the ability to attend.

Dozens of Casinos

The casino market in New Mexico is a strong one. There are 28 tribal locations, plus a handful of state-licensed race tracks that also feature attached casinos. 

Many of these places are looped together, in the same area. The most popular such grouping is Albuquerque, which features four resort casinos within walking distance of one another.

Still Angling for Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily fantasy betting isn’t yet legal in New Mexico, but bills have been been proposed. The hope for it being successfully pushed through, however, isn’t great.

If it does, it almost certainly won’t be before 2018. Because…

Push for Legal Sports Betting Falling Flat

As of 2015, legalized sports betting wasn’t expected to arrive in New Mexico “anytime soon.” This, despite aggressive attempts from the local government officials to set a new precedent. 

The matter isn’t even about the surfeit of casinos in the state. Those are certaily part of it, but more than anything, this is about the financial upside. Many officials already recognize New Mexico, and the United States in general, does a poor job capitalizing on the burgeoning gambling industry.

Put it this way: In any given year, more than $100 billion—yes, $100 billion—will be wagered on the NFL and college football alone. Roughly 97.8 percent of that will be gambled illegally, in the sense those wagers will be made with online sportsbooks, actually illegal bookies, etc. So, if $100 billion is being bet—and that’s a conservative number—states are missing out on the opportunity to tax and charge fees on $97.8 billion every year.

And again, this number is likely higher. Much higher.

Clearly, this all doesn’t come from New Mexico alone. But they would be among the biggest state-level benefactors since they have so many casinos in operation. So you can understand a majority push to legalize the sports betting process. Alas, as it is with so many other states, everyone is waiting on someone else to set a precedent. The hope in New Mexico, and around the rest of the country, is that an Atlantic City revival will trigger new sports betting slants that legalize it in New Jersey, which will then prompt other states to follow suit.

Social Gambling is Nondescript

New Mexico is cloudy on its stance to social gambling. The assumption, as always, is that it’s A-OK on a smaller scale. Once you get into full-tilt casino nights or poker rooms that turn a profit off being the host, you’ve entered a no-fly zone.


New Mexico Gambling Law Overview

Please see below for a more specific breakdown of what betting types are and aren’t allowed in New Mexico at this time.

  • Casino Gambling: Legal
  • Tribal Gambling: Legal
  • Poker: Legal
  • Horse-Race Betting: Legal
  • Dog-Race Betting: Not legal
  • Lottery: Legal
  • Daily Fantasy Betting: Not specified (but there is a pending proposal)
  • Social Gambling: Legal
  • Charitable Gambling: Legal
  • Online Gambling: Not specified

New Mexico Sports Teams

Due to the absence of professional teams in New Mexico, we will split our focus between in-house squads and the most popular professional factions that are located outside state lines.

New Mexico State Aggies (College Basketball)

Having been around for 110 seasons, the New Mexico State Aggies are one of the nation’s more established basketball programs. They have never won a national championship, nor are they known for making it out of the second round, but they are NCAA tournament staples. They’ve earned six bids in the last eight years.

Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

Absolutely no surprises here. 

The Dallas Cowboys are often referred to as “America’s Team,” so they’ll always have plenty of fans in any given state. Combine this with New Mexico’s reasonable proximity to the state of Texas, and presto! You have a lock for their NFL affections.

This interest paid off in the 1990s, when the Cowboys posted three Super Bowl victories, but their performance since has been lukewarm. They’ve made just two playoff appearances over the last eight years, albeit each of those two berths came in the last three seasons.

Now with Dak Prescott under center, most are expecting a return to the old winning ways. The Cowboys still play in the hellishly difficult NFC East division, but they finished an indomitable 13-3 during the 2017 season. With a young core at their command, they’re in very good shape.

Denver Nuggets (NBA)

Baseball may ultimately top the NBA in popularity throughout New Mexico, but this was just too good to pass up. That the Denver Nuggets are New Mexico’s team is pretty random, considering that the franchise has trouble dredging up enough interest throughout the state of Colorado.

Popularity has waned over the past few years. The Nuggets haven’t made the playoffs since 2013 and haven’t been out of the first round since 2009. Luckily for them, they have two stars in place with Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic, plus an upcoming star or two in Gary Harris and Jamal Murray. Their future is looking up—as bright as it’s been since Carmelo Anthony’s heyday.

New Mexico Biggest Sporting Event of the Year

Alburquerque National Balloon Fiesta

Is hot air ballooning a sport? Not technically.

But it’s abnormally popular throughout New Mexico, and the Alburquerque festival is crowd-amasser and pleaser—not to mention a chance for those able to fly these things to show off their skills during sample runs and spirited competitions. And, hey, if you feel like attending, the festival is run each and every October, usually in the second week of the month.

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