Legal New Mexico Sports Betting

Legal New Mexico sports betting debuted in the state on October 16, 2018, making NM the sixth state to offer legal brick-and-mortar sports wagering to the public. However, the way New Mexico went about getting its sportsbook up and running is instructional and informative, and it could prove to be the model for many states that have tribal gaming compacts and tribal exclusivity deals.

New Mexico’s Santa Ana Pueblo tribe has effectively used a loophole that automatically gave them the right to offer on-site sports wagering as soon as the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA, 1992), and it’s one that many other tribes throughout the US – who currently operate gambling facilities of their own – can potentially use to either hasten the process or as leverage to get favorable sports betting legislation passed.

Is Land-Based Sports Betting Legal In New Mexico?

Land-based sports betting is legal in New Mexico thanks to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which exists to define the three allowable types of tribal gaming: Class I gaming, Class II gaming, and Class III gaming. Class I gaming is basically limited to social games with low-value prizes, typically held as part of traditional tribal ceremonies or festivals. Class II gaming is defined as comprising bingo, punch-card games, tip jar games, and any card games that are otherwise legal in the state (not including house-banked games like baccarat, blackjack, etc.). But here’s why legal New Mexico sports betting was able to be launched without any state legislation once the federal PASPA ban was overturned: Class III gaming, per the tribal compacts as codified by the federal government in the IGRA, means “all forms of gaming that are not class I or class II gaming.”

This is a catch-all that unequivocally includes sports betting, and thus, sports betting – no longer federally illegal in NM – was immediately legalized as a matter of course. While some states may have taken umbrage at the brazen nature of the Santa Ana Pueblo’s (correct) interpretation of this law and filed suit to stop their sports betting product, the government of New Mexico has not indicated any plans to challenge the above interpretation (though this does not preclude the legislature from writing new legal New Mexico sports betting laws that might disrupt the Santa Ana Star’s sports betting product).

Is It Illegal To Bet On Sports In New Mexico?

It is absolutely not illegal to bet on sports in New Mexico, provided you do so at the Santa Ana Star or via a legal offshore sportsbook like Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline, 5Dimes, or other top sites. Currently, the Santa Ana Star, located just a few miles outside of Albuquerque, is the only facility in the state to offer sports wagering, even though there are 32 other gambling venues in the state (27 other tribal casinos and 5 racinos).

Additionally, the Santa Ana Star sportsbook has no online component that can be used to place sports wagers from outside the physical casino property, as doing so would be in violation of the state’s restrictions on online gambling (an umbrella under which sports wagering falls). Still, if you use an offshore sportsbook that legally operates outside of US jurisdiction, there are no laws on NM books that criminalize this practice.

Is There Anywhere In New Mexico That I Can I Bet On Sports?

Yes, you can bet on sports in New Mexico at the Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel, and you can also use a legal offshore sportsbook like Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline, 5Dimes, BetDSI, or BookMaker, all of which accept NM residents as customers. Signing up is fast and free, and all of your wagers are encrypted, secure, and guaranteed to be paid out in a timely fashion. As there is only one physical venue where you can currently wager on sports in the state, these legal New Mexico sports betting sites are likely going to be your most convenient and accessible solutions.

Where’s The Closest Place To Me To Bet?

If you live in New Mexico, the only physical place you can go to wager on sports is the Santa Ana Star outside of Albuquerque. The majority of the state’s tribal casinos are in the northwest quadrant of the state, though it’s not clear which city will be the next NM locale to offer legal sports betting. It seems like a sure thing that Santa Fe will have some form of legal New Mexico sports betting in the near future, and the southern city of Las Cruces is also very near several casino venues that could offer sports wagering.

Potential Cities For Legal New Mexico Sports Betting

  • Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe
  • Las Cruces

You can also make a drive to neighboring states to bet on sports, although that’s something of a long trek. Historically, NM residents would travel west to Las Vegas, NV, to bet on sports, though Mississippi to the east has a couple dozen sports betting venues up and running, now. Still, these cities are quite a long way from New Mexico, making them less appealing for those who just want to bet on a few games. If you’re taking a vacation, either destination is great fun and worthwhile, but if you just want to make a bet every few days like most sports gamblers, you’ll want to stick with the Santa Ana Star or – even more conveniently – wager online at legal offshore sportsbooks.

New Mexico Sports Betting Sites

There are several legal New Mexico sports betting sites to choose from on the Internet. The best of these, for most NM residents, is Bovada, as they’re the industry leaders and the most popular offshore sportsbook among all American players. After Bovada, both SportsBetting and BetOnline offer identical odds and lines, though they usually have dramatically different bonuses to choose from, for both new and returning members. 5Dimes is another excellent NM sportsbook, and their bread and butter is the alternate line, giving their customers a number of different options for every spread on the docket, no matter the sport.

Other top NM sports wagering websites include BetDSI and the Internet’s oldest bookmaker, aptly called BookMaker. Whether your join one or two of the above sites – or join all of them – you are sure to find robust wagering options that no land-based book is likely to match. Plus, shopping lines on the Internet is a lot easier than shopping lines between different land-based casinos!

New Mexico Sports Betting And Gambling Laws

The Gaming Control Act of 1978 defines all of the current New Mexico sports betting and gambling laws. Naturally, given its date of origin, there is no mention of “online” or “Internet” gambling. Still, the state legislature could have added that at any time, though they’ve so far chosen not to. Thus, there is literally nothing in the law to prevent NM residents from using these means to access offshore sportsbooks.

What Teams Can I Bet On?

New Mexico does not have any presence in the major American sports, and its NCAA offerings are a bit thin as well. That said, there are some notable colleges in the state, and there are several popular teams in neighboring states that are very popular with NM residents. Most of those who live in New Mexico and wager on sports are fans of the following clubs:

Popular New Mexico Teams

New Mexico Lobos (University of New Mexico) New Mexico State Aggies (New Mexico State University) Dallas Cowboys (NFL)
Texas Rangers (MLB) Denver Nuggets (NBA) Colorado Avalanche (NHL)

Horse Racing Betting In New Mexico

New Mexico actually has a comparatively robust, thriving horse racing industry, and the state is home to Ruidoso Downs, one of the oldest racetracks in America. As such, horse racing betting in New Mexico is something of an old tradition. In fact, Ruidoso Downs, opened in the 1940s, is the only US track that offers an oval Thoroughbred track and a separate Quarter Horse straightaway. Further, it is the site of several Grade I Thoroughbred races and hosts the last leg of the American Quarter Horse Triple Crown, the All American Futurity.

Simulcast wagering was introduced in New Mexico in 1989, and ten years later, slot machines were legally allowed at the venues, turning all NM tracks into bona fide racino facilities. Sunray Park & Casino in Farmington, NM, and Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino in Sunland Park, NM, are two of the other top venues in the state.

Daily Fantasy Sports In New Mexico

DFS, or Daily Fantasy Sports in New Mexico, is not technically legal, as there are no explicit laws formally declaring such to be the case. However, all major DFS operators – including DraftKings and FanDuel – do business in the state, and there has been no indication that this will change anytime soon. While many states currently have legislation to officially recognize DFS as a lawful practice, New Mexico is not on that list. However, the state could introduce any such bills at any time in the future.

Legal New Mexico Sports Betting FAQs

Can I Bet Real Money On Sports In New Mexico?

You can absolutely bet real money on sports in New Mexico, and you can win real money, too! Whether you wager at a land-based venue like the Santa Ana Star or use an offshore sportsbook for your legal New Mexico sports betting, big picks = big bucks!

Is Online Sports Betting Safe In New Mexico?

Yes, online sports betting is 100% safe in New Mexico. Using offshore sports betting sites is totally legal for all NM residents.

Will Sports Betting In New Mexico Ever Be Legal?

Sports betting in already legal in New Mexico by virtue of the fact that it is freely offered at the Santa Ana Star, but the state could always expand (or, much less likely, restrict) the scope of legal New Mexico sports betting going forward. For now, however, it is de facto legal, as the state allows it to be offered freely. Hopefully, more tribal casino venues will take the SA Star’s cue and open their own books to the public.

Will I Get Arrested For Sports Betting In New Mexico?

Nobody has ever been cited, fined, or arrested for participating in sports betting over the 30+ years that overseas books have been serving New Mexico. Until the state writes laws explicitly banning the practice and criminalizing individual bettors, you will not get into any legal hot water by wagering on sports in NM.

What Is the Sports Betting Age In New Mexico?

The legal sports betting age in New Mexico is 21 years old, as that’s how old you need to be to play in the state’s tribal and commercial casinos. That said, all the top offshore sportsbooks merely require their customers to be at least 18 in order to join and play. Still, because New Mexico does technically have that 21-year-old limit, it is always advisable to err on the side of caution and go with the state’s laws.

Are There Mobile Sports Betting Apps Available In New Mexico?

There are no mobile sports betting apps available in New Mexico, at least on the App Store and in Google Play. However, just because these companies do not allow real-money gaming products from overseas operators into their marketplaces doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy legal New Mexico sports betting on the go. In fact, all of the best offshore sportsbooks support mobile betting and account management, offering streamlined, small-screen-optimized versions of their desktop sites to iPhone, iPad, and Android users. As long as you have a modern mobile device with an up-to-date web browser and an Internet connection, you can game on the go, no matter where in NM – or the rest of the country – you happen to be.

Are There Mobile Sports Betting Apps Available In New Mexico?

There are no mobile sports betting apps available in New Mexico, at least on the App Store and in Google Play. However, just because these companies do not allow real-money gaming products from overseas operators into their marketplaces doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy legal New Mexico sports betting on the go. In fact, all of the best offshore sportsbooks support mobile betting and account management, offering streamlined, small-screen-optimized versions of their desktop sites to iPhone, iPad, and Android users. As long as you have a modern mobile device with an up-to-date web browser and an Internet connection, you can game on the go, no matter where in NM – or the rest of the country – you happen to be.

Where Is The Best Place To Bet On Sports In New Mexico?

If you want to wager at a land-based venue, the best place to bet on sports in New Mexico is the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel just outside of Albuquerque. If, on the other hand, you wish to wager over the Internet from home, you can use an offshore book like Bovada, SportsBetting, 5Dimes, BetOnline, BetDSI, or BookMaker. All are safe, solid choices, and if you join more than one, you can shop lines for the best values on any given matchup.

Should I Use A Local Bookie In New Mexico?

No, you should not use a local, unlicensed bookie in New Mexico. While you would not be breaking the law to do so, the state will pursue those who operate sportsbooks without a license, and you could be putting all your money at risk. Plus, with local black-market bookies, there is no recourse for stolen funds, confiscated funds, or anything else. Sports betting is risky enough without having to put your faith in a potentially shady enterprise.

Do Any Casinos In New Mexico Have Sports Betting?

Yes, the Santa Ana Star has sports betting, and other NM casinos are expected to follow suit in the coming months. Legal New Mexico sports betting – barring some wildly negative action from the state – is here to stay!

It It Legal To Bet On Sports With My Friends In New Mexico?

Per New Mexico Statute § 30-19-15, it is technically unlawful for anyone to “knowingly accept…anything of value from another” for the purpose of “wagering on the results of a race, sporting event,” etc. This would seem to indicate that it is not legal to bet on sports with your friends in New Mexico. However, social gaming in private where the host takes no house fees or rake is typically overlooked by law enforcement, and any potential laws against it are not enforced. Still, if you’re concerned about social gaming, it is best to stick to legal New Mexico sports betting at land-based casinos and online, offshore sportsbooks.