Sports betting in New Mexico is a bit of an anomaly compared to the other US states with legal sports wagering.
Technically, New Mexico sports betting isn’t legal. But it isn’t illegal, either, at least at tribal casinos.
NM sports betting first launched in October 2018 when Santa Ana Casino took the first bet. It became the sixth state to accept a legal sports bet at the time.
The Pueblo of Santa Ana Tribe decided to move forward with sports betting, as it isn’t expressly illegal under state law. In their interpretation, that meant it is allowed under their tribal gaming compacts with the state.
Four other tribal casinos have also launched New Mexico sports betting since then.
When will online sports betting launch in New Mexico?
It doesn’t look promising for online NM sports betting to launch anytime soon.
Given its technically gray status in the state as unregulated but allowed at tribal casinos, there’s nothing suggesting widespread online sports betting would be allowed.
The tribes could possibly launch an app that is geofenced to their casino and tribal lands, similar to Mississippi. But that doesn’t add much if there’s a retail option already.
Any online betting sites that claim to allow online betting in New Mexico are unlicensed offshore operators. Those sportsbook operators offer no consumer protection at all for the bettor.
That means a book can decide to not pay out a winning bet or simply close up shop without refunding customer balances.
Recent New Mexico sports betting stories
Legal betting options in New Mexico
There are currently five casinos that accept sports bets in New Mexico:
- Hilton Buffalo Thunder Casino in Santa Fe
- Inn of the Mountain Gods in Mescalero
- Isleta Resort & Casino in Albuquerque
- Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque
- Santa Ana Star Casino in Bernalillo
There could be three additional casinos in the near future, as the Navajo Nation wants to add sports betting.
The books offer a range of betting on major US sports like NASCAR, NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB, as well as major college sports. MMA, tennis and golf bets are also available.
Most popular sports to bet on in New Mexico
There are no major league sports teams in New Mexico, so bettors wanting local action would have to bet on the local colleges.
But that isn’t an option at every book in the state.
Some sportsbooks, like the one at Santa Ana Star, do not accept bets on the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State. Others, like the Isleta Resort, do accept bets on those local schools.
That decision is made at the casino level and not by the sportsbook operator, as both of those books use USBookmaking for their sportsbooks.
As with most states, it’s likely that football betting is king in New Mexico. NFL betting is likely to be heavy on the Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos and Houston Texans.
New Mexico and daily fantasy sports
Similar to sports betting, while daily fantasy sports aren’t explicitly legal in New Mexico, operators do accept entries from within the state.
That means residents can enter contests with DraftKings and FanDuel and more.
Is horse racing legal in New Mexico?
Yes, horse racing is legal in New Mexico. There are five tracks that allow racing:
- Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino in Ruidoso Downs
- Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino in Sunland Park
- Sunray Park and Casino in Farmington
- The Downs Racetrack and Casino in Albuquerque
- Zia Park Racetrack and Casino, owned by Penn National, in Hobbs
While all of these tracks include a casino, there’s currently no option for those casinos to add NM sports betting. None of those casinos are owned or operated by a tribal entity.
There is one remaining racino license available under state law. The New Mexico Racing Commission solicited plans from gaming operators but eventually decided to hold off on awarding the license in August 2019.
The license could become available in the future.
New Mexico sports betting history
2020: The Navajo Times reported the Navajo Gaming Enterprise is working toward launching sports betting in the state. The Navajo have three casinos in the state.
2019: Although there were no bills to legalize sports betting, there were bills to stop the New Mexico Lottery from launching a sports betting game of its own.
Those efforts did not pass.
2018: The Santa Ana Casino became the first in New Mexico to launch sports betting despite no official law on the record.
It made New Mexico the sixth state with some form of sports betting.
The state lottery also announced in late October that it would allow players to basically play a parlay of at least three game results.
New Mexico sports betting FAQ
Is sports betting legal in New Mexico?
No, but there’s more to the story. Tribal casinos in New Mexico are allowed to offer sports betting because state law does not explicitly prohibit sports wagering.
Where can I bet on sports?
Only tribal casinos currently offer sports betting in New Mexico, and not all of them do.
Right now, five tribal casinos across the state take sports bets. The Navajo Nation is also looking to add betting at its three casinos.
Can I bet on sports on my phone in New Mexico?
No, there is currently no option for mobile sports betting in New Mexico. There likely won’t be for some time either.
New Mexico’s tribal casinos are offering sports betting in a gray area, meaning it’s technically not legal in the state. Without some kind of legal framework, there’s likely no way for the tribes to launch statewide mobile betting.
The tribes could launch an app that allows bettors to place bets on their phone while at the casino property, though the return on investment is likely too low.
Can I bet on local New Mexico teams?
Whether or not you can bet on local teams, like those at the University of New Mexico or New Mexico State, depends on the casino.
Some casinos do not allow betting on those local colleges while others do.
Are offshore sportsbooks legal in New Mexico?
No, it’s illegal for offshore sportsbooks to accept bets from anywhere in the United States.
All sportsbooks are licensed by jurisdiction and not at a federal level. So there is no legitimately-licensed sportsbook in the US that can serve every jurisdiction.
These websites offer no consumer protection for the bettor.