Is sports betting legal in New Mexico?

Yes, tribal casinos in New Mexico can offer legal sports betting because of the structure of their compacts with the state. However, New Mexico law does not permit legal sports betting anywhere other than at those tribal casinos.

How sports betting works in New Mexico

The tribes are able to offer sports betting on tribal lands because of the language in their compacts with the state. Unlike other states that went through committee hearings, legislative discussions, or voter approval, New Mexico sports betting is based on tribal compacts.

The compacts permit the tribes to do the following:

“… conduct, only on Indian Lands, subject to all of the terms and conditions of this Compact, any or all forms of casino-style gaming, including but not limited to slot machines and other forms of electronic gaming devices; all forms of poker, blackjack and other casino-style card games, both banked and unbanked; roulette; craps; keno; wheel of fortune; pai gow; and other games played in casino settings; and any form of a lottery.” 

With such a broad definition of the types of games that are legal, the tribes elected to move forward with on-site sports betting. 
The last legislative action to make sports betting legal in New Mexico occurred in 2021. The New Mexico Legislature considered HB 101 — a move to allow the state’s racinos to offer sports betting — for a brief period. However, after a few referrals, no further action occurred on the proposal.

Since then, the only sports betting-related proposals in the Legislature have involved commissioning studies to examine gambling in the state. These proposals have largely been non-starters, with the most recent entry dying unceremoniously in 2022. It does not appear as if there is anything new to report for sports betting at the state level.

Where to bet on sports in New Mexico

Although New Mexico is home to roughly two dozen gambling locations, either in the form of tribal casinos or commercial racinos, only five of the tribal casinos have chosen to move forward with on-site sports betting so far. 

The first of the group to do so was the Santa Ana Star Casino, under the ownership and operation of the Pueblo of Santa Ana. The book took its first wagers in October 2018.

These five venues have been the lone sports betting locations in New Mexico for some time, but it is possible that one or more Navajo Nation properties in the state might join them. The Navajo Nation also stretches into Arizona, and it has already placed a Hard Rock Sportsbook at its Twin Arrows property in Flagstaff. So it’s possible that as many as three more sportsbooks might debut in New Mexico.

Here are all the places where you can place a sports bet in New Mexico as of February 2023:

Buffalo Thunder Casino

Thunder Race & Sportsbook is the combination racebook and sportsbook at the Buffalo Thunder Casino in Santa Fe. The Pueblo of Pojoaque owns and operates the venue. The book features a full-service bar and large-screen viewing monitors across its back wall. 

Inn of the Mountain Gods

The Sportsbook at the Inn provides visitors to the Inn of the Mountain Gods with a cool respite from their travels in and around Mescalero. The book is the property of the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Reservation, and its technology for the book is powered by sportsbook giant Caesars (William Hill). You can order food or place wagers at the table, and the book has 12 43-inch televisions to help you keep up with the games.

Isleta Resort & Casino

The Sports Book at Isleta Resort & Casino is one of the largest and nicest sports betting facilities in New Mexico. It is owned and operated by the Pueblo of Isleta and is one of two sportsbooks in Albuquerque. It offers a full-service bar, sports betting kiosks and tellers, and more than 40 HD televisions.

Route 66 Casino

The Route 66 Casino is home to the other of the two Albuquerque sportsbooks. It is owned and operated by the Pueblo of Laguna. Like its Albuquerque counterpart as Isleta, the Book at Route 66 offers full-service options for you to eat, plenty of options for betting and a comfortable setting to relax and watch the games.

Santa Ana Star Casino 

The sportsbook at Santa Ana Star Casino will always hold a place in New Mexico history as the site of the first legal sports wager in the state. The Sportsbook at the Star is a fine, if perfunctory, sports betting venue. There are both live ticket writers and kiosks — in fact, the kiosks are open longer than the sportsbook itself. 

Most popular sports to bet on in New Mexico

The five New Mexico sportsbooks offer various options for wagering. Any and all major sports are going to be front and center on the odds board. 

New Mexico is not home to any major professional sports teams. Its population simply hasn’t been sufficient to draw interest from major franchises in the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL. The closest thing that New Mexicans have in this regard is the Albuquerque Isotopes. The Isotopes are the Triple-A affiliate of MLB’s Colorado Rockies.

Prior to the Isotopes’ association with the Rockies, they have also served in the same capacity for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Florida (now Miami) Marlins. So, it is conceivable that any of these three teams might serve as the de facto standard-bearer for fan loyalties in the state. 

New Mexico is also home to two universities whose athletic teams play in the NCAA’s Division I. Both the University of New Mexico Lobos and the New Mexico State Aggies have enjoyed varying levels of success in different sports. 

These colleges are undoubtedly big draws for action at New Mexico sportsbooks. However, because each sportsbook location is operating independently and without a centralized oversight, there is no consistency about whether you can bet on UNM or NMST at your nearest book. Some books, like the one at the Santa Ana Star Casino, do not allow in-state college betting. Others, like the book at Isleta, do. If you plan to bet on in-state college teams, make sure to confirm that your chosen book will take the action.

Here are the most popular sports teams for betting in New Mexico:

Daily fantasy sports 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.

Horse racing in New Mexico

There are five tracks in the state that offer live horse racing, and there is also racing at Expo New Mexico, the New Mexico State Fair. Here are the five tracks in the state:

Each of the five locations offers betting on simulcast races around the country, too. In addition, there are slot machines at all five tracks, making them racinos

Online horse betting is also available to New Mexicans. Top sites like TVG and FanDuel Racing serve patrons from the state. However, in an interesting quirk, betting on online horse races is legal in New Mexico so long as the race does not occur in New Mexico. In other words, you can bet through your phone as much as you like, but you’ll have to visit one of the tracks above if you want to bet on the races taking place there.

New Mexico sports betting timeline

The story of New Mexico sports betting is neither long nor terribly complex. The five aforementioned tribal locations have opened books, and there has been no significant effort on the part of the state to expand sports betting. So, while time has passed and people in New Mexico have been betting on sports, there’s not been much to report.

New Mexico sports betting FAQ

Is online sports betting legal in New Mexico?

No, online sports betting is not legal in New Mexico. The state never legalized online sports betting, and none of the five tribal casinos that offer sports betting in the state are set up to provide sportsbook apps. You must place your bets in-person in NM.

Who oversees sports betting in New Mexico?

Each individual tribal gambling commission oversees the gambling that occurs on its lands, including sports betting. More broadly, the US Bureau of Indian Affairs manages the tribes and maintains oversight of their compliance with their state compacts. 

What is the legal gambling age in New Mexico?

You must be 21 or older to bet on sports in New Mexico.

There are some sports betting websites that say they accept bets from New Mexico. Are those legal options?

No. There is no law on the books in New Mexico to allow online sports betting, and offshore books like Bovada and BetOnline are skirting around existing law to offer betting. 

These books operate from outside the United States, and as such do not comply with New Mexico or US laws, restrictions, or business regulations. You are putting yourself and your financial information at risk by betting on these sites.

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