New Mexico Gambling Laws

New Mexico Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in New Mexico?

New Mexico gambling laws are upheld by several governmental agencies, but the Gaming Control Board is the major regulatory office in the state. The New Mexico Gaming Control Board regulates charitable gambling like bingo games and raffles. The board also assures compliance of the tribal gaming casinos with stipulations of the Gaming Compact. The New Mexico Racing Commission governs the racinos in the state, along with all parimutuel betting in New Mexico. The New Mexico State Lottery sells all lotto tickets in the state.

New Mexico: Laws Regarding Poker Playing

New Mexico may not have much in the way of poker history, but the present and future for poker are looking pretty positive as the state hosts an increasing amount of high-profile live tournament events.

Playing in such events is clearly legal under New Mexico law, but how does the law view poker in general? And in what other situations can poker players compete for real money?

Starting with the first question: Poker is most likely considered gambling under New Mexico state law. Without diving too deeply into technical legal waters, New Mexico law prohibits the act placing a bet, and defines a "bet" as occurring when the outcome wagered on is "dependent on chance" (see Section 30-19). That's obviously a vague term with a good amount of room for interpretation, but the position of the courts and the state is that poker counts as gambling in New Mexico.

Like New Jersey, New Mexico law first makes all betting illegal. Then the law provides specific situations that are exceptions to the general rule. When it comes to poker, you'll find exceptions for commercial and tribal casinos with live poker rooms such as the Route 66 Casino, which is home to an annual Heartland Poker Tour event.

What about the common exception for "social gambling" that states like Nevada have on the books? No such luck in New Mexico, which does not mention social gambling in any form we could discern. Ditto for charitable gambling, which does exist in New Mexico in the form of bingo and raffles, but no poker.
One bright spot for poker players among the bad news: The most severe penalty for participating in illegal gambling (assuming you're nothing more than a player) in New Mexico is a petty misdemeanor.

New Mexico Gambling Casinos

New Mexico gambling laws allow for a great deal of casino gambling. Since New Mexico is home to a number of Native American tribes, the Native American casinos in towns and cities throughout the state bring jobs and revenue to traditionally depressed local economies. Cities like Albuqueque, Santa Fe, and Mescalero have multiple casinos, but it's often the single casinos in cities like Espanola, Acoma, and Ohkay Owingeh are often more important to the well-being of the locals.

Let's start with the largest clusters of legal casinos in New Mexico, though. Santa Fe is the location of five casinos, including Camel Rock Casino, Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino, Kicks 66 Casino, the Cities of Gold Sports Bar, and the Cities of Gold Casino. Albuquerque is home to four casino properties: Sandia Resort & Casino, Casino Express, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and Route 66 Casino Hotel. Mescalero is home to three different gambling houses: The Elk's Lodge Casino, Casino Apache Travel Center, and the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino.

New Mexico Casino Cities

The single-casino towns in New Mexico are Acoma, Casa Blanca, Church Rock, Cuba, Dulce, Espanola, Isleta, Ohkay Owingeh, San Felipe Pueblo, Santa Ana Pueblo, Upper Fruitland, Waterflow, and Taos Mountain Casino in Taos.

New Mexico continues to expand its gaming presence. Some of these gaming halls are brand new, such as the North Edge Navajo Casino in Upper Fruitland, which opened in January 2012.

Learn About Other State Laws

New Mexico Racinos and Racing Laws

New Mexico parimutuel gambling laws allow for horse tracks which have elements of casino gambling, qualifying these betting venues for the status of "racino". At present, New Mexico has five racinos. These race tracks offers pari-mutuel wagers on horse racing, but each contains between 317 to 750 gaming machines.

The Downs Racetrack and Casino in Albuquerque has 317 gaming machines, along with a race book which allows exacta, quinella, superfecta, trifecta, and win/place/show bets. SunRay Park in Farmington has a race book and 510 video slot machines.

Zia Park Casino has a race book along with 750 gaming machines, making it the largest race track casino in New Mexico. Ruidoso Downs Race Track and the Billy the Kid Casino in Ruidoso offers a race book with Exacta, Pick 3, Quinella, Trifecta, Twin Trifecta, and Daily Double bets. The Billy the Kid Casino also houses 325 total gaming machines. Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino has all the same bets as Ruidoso combined with 700 gambling machines.

New Mexico Lottery Laws

New Mexico lottery laws allow a state-run lottery corporation to oversee all lotto vendors in the state. These vendors sell lottery game tickets like Roadrunner Cash, Pick 3, and Hot Lotto. Players also can buy tickets for the two multistate lottery games, Powerball and Mega Millions. Scratchers and quicksters are also available, including games like Skee Ball, Loteria, Cash in a Flash, and Super 9S.

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