New Mexico Sports Betting

The situation behind New Mexico’s sports betting options is one of the more unusual chapters in the American sports betting renaissance. Legal sports betting in New Mexico is underway at tribal casinos. There are five different sportsbook locations operating in the state at this moment, and more might join the party in the coming years. All of the tribal sportsbooks operate based on their tribal agreements with the state, so while there is no New Mexico law to allow sports betting explicitly, it is available and legal to bet in the state.

If that’s confusing, don’t worry — we’re going to lay it all out for you. As it turns out, the answer lies in the fact that the presence of tribal casinos is both a state and federal matter. We’ll go into more detail about this aspect below. However, one thing to note is that sports betting is entirely in-person in New Mexico. There are no online sportsbooks accepting wagers legally at this time.

The bottom line is that New Mexico was one of the very first states outside of Nevada to have legal sportsbooks open for business. The October 2018 debut placed the Land of Enchantment just behind the early adopters in places like New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia in terms of the first accepted wager. New Mexico sports betting is alive and well, so here are all the details about wagering on sporting events in the Land of Enchantment.

Is sports betting legal in New Mexico?

Yes. There are five tribal sportsbooks offering onsite sports betting services to New Mexicans or visitors to the state. However, the legality stems from the tribes’ compacts with New Mexico, rather than an explicit sports betting law. This wrinkle sets New Mexico apart from almost every other legal sports betting state. According to each tribe’s agreement with the state:

“The Tribe may conduct, only on Indian Lands, subject to all of the terms and conditions of this Compact, any or all forms of Class III Gaming.”

Thus, the Pueblo of Santa Ana tribe became the first to accept legal sports bets, doing so at their Santa Ana Star Casino in 2018. Since then, four other tribes have joined the Santa Ana with their own sportsbooks, and there’s no indication that the state is planning any sort of pushback. However, the clause “only on Indian Lands” is quite relevant for our next section.

Does New Mexico have legal online sportsbooks?

No, there are no legal online sportsbooks in New Mexico. Period. None of the sportsbooks that you can find online from the Land of Enchantment are legal or regulated by the state itself, and same goes for legal New Mexico online casinos. As it turns out, they are based outside of the US. This very fact is why we must strongly caution you against playing on these sites.

Companies based outside of the US do not have to comply with the same standards, and every sportsbook that you can find online right now in New Mexico fits this definition. So, it is entirely possible that you’ll be gambling on more than just the games you wager if you play. You’re betting that you won’t have any dispute with the site runners. If you do, you might find yourself with few tools to pursue any kind of justice for yourself. There may be no regulator at all, or a very weak one with no power to cause any change.

Worse yet, you cannot tell if their security software is effective, and how vulnerable your information would be to hackers. The New Mexico Legislature is already rumbling about legalizing sports betting in earnest. In the meantime, you have several different options around the state. Don’t risk identity theft, scamming, or simply theft for the sake of convenience.

When will New Mexico regulate online sports betting?

It’s hard to tell, to be honest. There are, in fact, several bills relating to gambling in New Mexico that are active in the New Mexico Legislature. One of them, HB101, includes the introduction of sports betting at the state’s racetracks as part of its proposal. The bill also contains language that would make online sports betting legal in the Land of Enchantment. However, the last action on the bill was in January 2021, and it was merely a committee referral. Long story short, this bill is nowhere close to becoming the law of the land, and there is nothing else on the docket that might act as a successor or substitute.

The important thing to remember, though, is the rationale for most state legislatures to approve gambling expansions, including sports betting. The New Mexico Legislature has already let three years of potential tax revenue from online sportsbooks in the state go by, and states are always on the lookout for more sources of income. New Mexico’s proximity to Texas is also a consideration since there would be tremendous cross-border traffic from the sports betting-less Lone Star State. So, although we don’t have very many solid leads that things are moving forward, New Mexico could certainly turn everything around at any time.

Can you play daily fantasy sports contests in New Mexico?

Yes. Most daily fantasy sports companies (DFS), like DraftKings and FanDuel, are active in New Mexico, though they operate in a legal gray area. There is no law about daily fantasy sports in the Land of Enchantment. The last time that the issue came up in New Mexico was in 2016 when a bill floated around the legislature. Since then, there hasn’t been a serious push for official legalization. Even so, the sites accept New Mexico players without issue.

Who oversees New Mexico sports betting?

The New Mexico Gaming Control Board. The NMGCB is the oversight agency for gambling that takes place in the Land of Enchantment, including tribal gambling. So, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that any gambling expansion, including online sports betting, will install the New Mexico Gaming Control Board as the regulator. In a broad sense, the NMGCB would be in charge of the sports betting that is occurring onsite at New Mexico tribal casinos. However, in practice, there is no prominent mention of sports betting on the NMGCB site, and the individual tribal regulators are the de facto oversight agency for each tribe’s sports betting.

How old do I have to be to bet on sports in New Mexico?

21. All of the casinos in the state that already maintain sportsbooks require patrons to be 21 to play. Furthermore, even though the aforementioned bill would place sportsbooks at the state’s racinos, which only require players to be 18, the language of the bill specifically requires sports bettors to be 21. So, unless you can buy beer legally, you won’t be able to bet on sporting events in New Mexico.

Online sportsbooks that could launch in New Mexico

We want to state upfront that what you’re about to read is entirely speculative. Until a bill starts making major waves in New Mexico or seems likely to move all the way to the governor’s desk, we won’t know exactly how many or which sportsbooks could even potentially launch in New Mexico. As we have seen elsewhere, the possibilities range from basically state-run monopolies (Rhode Island/New Hampshire) to dozens of licenses (Maryland/New Jersey). Instead, the list below is merely an estimate based upon these companies’ connections to the state of New Mexico and/or their track record for expanding into new markets.

DraftKings Sportsbook

One of the most obvious choices to launch an online sportsbook in New Mexico is DraftKings. As a general rule, assuming that DraftKings Sportsbook is going to be one of the first to launch in any new state is a fairly safe prediction. DK has a habit of launching on or just after the first day of service in multiple locations, and its widespread DFS business often paves the way for the company to plant its flag. With that said, DraftKings offers one of the more innovative sportsbook apps in the US, so if it’s the first to debut in the Land of Enchantment, New Mexicans certainly aren’t getting the short end of the stick.

FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuel is the other obvious choice to be one of the first, if not the first, online sportsbook to open its virtual doors for New Mexico inhabitants. Like archrival DraftKings, FanDuel’s reach is exceptionally wide in the US due to its DFS services. FanDuel also has the resources to lead the way in any new market and a history of doing exactly that. New Mexicans will discover, though, that FanDuel has a top-notch sportsbook in terms of its ease of use, navigation, and some of the best promotions that are available in all of US sports betting.

Caesars Sportsbook

Caesars Sportsbook holds the distinction of being the first major sportsbook brand to set up shop in New Mexico. The company already runs the retail book at the Inn of the Mountain Gods’ Sportsbook at the Inn and has been active in New Mexico for quite some time now. Caesars also took a giant leap into the top of the sportsbook world with its acquisition of venerable sports betting brand William Hill. With the absorption of that brand, Caesars has dramatically increased its presence and its institutional experience. Therefore, New Mexico sports bettors can plan on using this site if online sports betting ever becomes legal in the state, and they will find an unmatched level of experience and a level of comfort about the idiosyncrasies of sports betting rarely found at other books.

USB Sportsbook

The mobile app produced by USBookmaking is not usually on the top of anyone’s list for potential sportsbook launches. However, since USB is running the retail operations at two of New Mexico’s five retail sportsbooks, we cannot ignore the likelihood that one or both of the casinos, the Santa Ana Star or the Isleta Resort and Casino, will turn to USB for its mobile app if online sports betting becomes a viable activity in New Mexico. We don’t have much to say about this company, as it is far more interested in providing retail sportsbook solutions to its clients. What we can say is that if you are used to USBookmaking through your wagering at one of the two locations, you can probably count on a similar experience online.

BetMGM Sportsbook

The last likely company to offer a mobile app in New Mexico is BetMGM. BetMGM Sportsbook is similar to DraftKings and FanDuel in terms of its reach and aggression in pursuit of new markets, and the three companies often form a sort of triumvirate wherever sports betting develops. The only reason that BetMGM is not higher on this list is because of its lack of connections to New Mexico. There are no MGM locations anywhere in the vicinity of New Mexico, and the company is likely to have to scramble for a partner if and when sports betting moves online in the state. However, BetMGM is a top-flight sportsbook with tons of options to bet and, through its Edit My Bet feature, an unrivaled amount of flexibility for bettors who want to change their wagers. We would guess that BetMGM will find its way into the Land of Enchantment, but we’re not sure exactly how it will do so yet.

New Mexico sportsbooks near me

If you’re wanting to bet on sports in New Mexico, there is some good news. There are several in-state sportsbook options if you don’t mind driving for a few minutes, particularly if you live near Albuquerque or Santa Fe. Four of the five retail sportsbooks offering services in the Land of Enchantment are located in and around one of these two cities. Since roughly one-quarter of New Mexico’s 2 million residents live in Albuquerque and another 100,000 or so call Santa Fe home, the placement of the books is serendipitous at the very least. The fifth sportsbook is farther south in the state, but still gives folks in places like Roswell and Las Cruces (and El Paso) an option within a couple hours’ drive. The five sportsbook locations in New Mexico are:

NameAddressPhone NumberTribal OwnerSports betting partner
Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder30 Buffalo Thunder Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87506505-455-5555Pojoaque PuebloNational Sportsbook Management
Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino Apache287 Carrizo Canyon Rd, Mescalero, NM 88340575-464-7059Mescalero Apache TribeCaesars Sportsbook
Isleta Resort and Casino11000 Broadway Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87105505-724-3800Isleta PuebloUSBookmaking
Route 66 Casino Hotel14500 Central Ave SW, Rio Puerco, Albuquerque, NM 87121505-352-7866Laguna PuebloLas Vegas Dissemination Company
Santa Ana Star Casino54 Jemez Canyon Dam Rd, Bernalillo, NM 87004505-867-0000Santa Ana PuebloUSBookmaking

Aside from those locations, there are a couple of options that New Mexicans have in adjoining states. The most obvious of these choices is Colorado. Colorado online sportsbooks have been available since 2020, and there are dozens of mobile and in-person sportsbooks that you can play as long as you are inside state lines. For New Mexicans who live in the northern part of the state, a trip to the Centennial State is probably your best option for betting. Even if you live near the options in Santa Fe or Albuquerque, you should realize that online sportsbooks typically have far more opportunities for wagering due to their extensive live, or in-play, betting features. So, even if you’re used to one of the in-state options, it might be worth your while to take a gander up the road every once in a while.

The other option that will soon be available is Arizona. Folks in places like Deming or even Las Cruces might be better served by hopping on I-10 and heading into the Grand Canyon State if they want to place a bet. Similarly, residents of Gallup or Farmington have easy and direct paths to the west. Like Colorado, Arizona is home to several AZ online sportsbooks, and you simply cannot match the level of flexibility found through mobile sportsbooks in a retail sportsbook setting. Even though in-person sportsbooks are often comfortable locations with great seating, large televisions, and food options, online sportsbooks beat them every time when it comes to the pure sports betting dimension of the service. So, don’t be afraid to give them a try in the Grand Canyon State.

Popular sports to bet on in New Mexico

A minor blessing about the fact that there is no explicit law on the books to govern the active sportsbooks in New Mexico is that there are precious few prescribed restrictions on the offerings. Other states routinely limit the types of bets that can be made or the types of teams that can be the subject of wagers. It is not unusual for lawmakers or regulators like the NMGCB to forbid wagering on collegiate teams to some extent. In-state college teams are often on the prohibited list, and proposition wagers on all college sports are sometimes made unacceptable.

New Mexico’s tribes do not have to deal with any of those prohibitions. So, you can bet on almost any team or sport that you like. Although New Mexico is not home to any major sports franchises, every single game from the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL is going to be available on the board. You can also bet on the teams from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State, if you like.

The only types of competitions that are unavailable no matter where you bet (inside New Mexico or elsewhere) are high school sports and political elections. Both events are considered unseemly for betting purposes due to their extreme dangers of incipient corruption and interference. The outcomes of a Friday night football game or a presidential election are contentious enough without money riding on them.

Betting on New Mexico sports teams

Now, with each one of those sporting events, you have several different types of bets you can make. For those of you who are seasoned sports bettors, this list of wagers is already old hat. However, if you’re new to sports betting, here are the most popular wagers that you’ll find at New Mexico sportsbooks.

  1. Moneylines: A common wager with lines suggesting the odds of any given team or player winning an event. Favorites carry a negative number, while underdogs are positive. Each line is based on a $100 wager: Odds of -110 mean you need to bet $110 to win $100 whereas odds of +110 mean you can win $110 on a $100 wager.
  2. Point spreads: Another common wager that tells bettors how many points (goals or runs) a team is favored by. You can bet on the underdog to lose by less than the given amount or win outright, aka “cover the spread.” Or you can bet on the favorite to win by more than the number indicated.
  3. Totals: Whenever someone talks about the “over/under,” totals are the type of bet they mean. A sportsbook estimates how many points two teams will combine to score, and bettors wager whether the actual total will be higher (“the over”) or lower (“the under”).
  4. Props: Propositions, or prop bets, are wagers on elements of a game that don’t directly influence its outcome. If you see bets about whether a team will “win” a period of play or whether a certain player will score a certain number of points, you’re seeing a prop bet. For the most part, a prop bet is a yes/no question, and you bet on what the answer will be.
  5. Futures: Wagers on events at the end of tournaments or the end of a season of play. A bet about the eventual champion or the winner of an award is a futures bet. These are usually expressed as a long list of moneylines. It’s not uncommon for all of them to be underdogs, since the chance of any particular player or team winning — even the favorite — is less than the chance of them not winning.
  6. Parlays: Combination wagers that mix several single bets from the types above together in a stewpot of a bet. You can usually place as many bets (or legs) into a parlay that you’d like to make. You have to get every single leg correct in order to get paid. So, parlays are high-risk bets, but they can also pay out huge windfalls.
  7. Live betting: A type of proposition wager where you bet on games already in progress. It has become one of the biggest types of sports betting in most sports betting states. Unfortunately, New Mexicans are not positioned to take part in this new trend very well. Although some New Mexico sportsbooks do advertise that they offer live bets, the reality is that you need the speed of online sportsbook technology to put the bets together effectively. Live betting can offer the ability to bet on events as small as individual plays, and it’s now common to have more than one hundred different wagers available on a single match.

How New Mexico sports betting came to be

As stated above, each tribe that has launched sports betting has done so through the application of their tribal compact language. To wit: “The Tribe may conduct, only on Indian Lands, subject to all of the terms and conditions of this Compact, any or all forms of Class III Gaming.”

“Class III gaming” is a term borrowed from the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act, the 1988 federal law that opened the possibility of casino gaming on tribal lands. It is rather broadly defined as any gaming that is not Class I (social games) or Class II (bingo and raffles). Thus, sports betting is conceivably classified as a Class III activity, even though neither the IGRA nor the tribal compacts mention it.

Having this language in the compact would not be enough on its own, however. In order to proceed, the tribes would also have to ensure that existing New Mexico law did not outlaw the activity itself. Since there is nothing explicitly making sports betting illegal in New Mexico, the tribes were able to open legal sportsbooks through a very narrow loophole in the law.

In the end, New Mexico may be one of the most confounding states when it comes to legal sports betting. It’s the only place that sports betting is legal without anyone specifically saying that it is. Instead, a rather broadly-written tribal compact and a statutory silence on the matter have allowed the tribes to take some bets. At the end of the day, the distinction does not really matter to the average sports bettor. The bottom line is that you can bet on the sports you want in New Mexico with the security of knowing that everything is aboveboard, even if no one is actually saying so.

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Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is a senior evergreen content writer for PlayUSA. He’s been writing and reporting on the gambling industry since 2013. Prior to working for PlayUSA, Shirley was a feature writer for QuadJacks, a site covering issues in poker. He also writes for BonusCodePoker, a poker satire site that lampoons the lighter side of card games. Shirley is a graduate of the MBA program at Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business and has a degree in English from Texas A&M University. He grew up in Houston, TX, and lives in Katy, just west of Houston. Shirley is also a former high school teacher. He is married, has one daughter, and practices Brazilian jiu jitsu in his spare time.

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