Real Money Online Gambling in New Mexico

New Mexico’s gambling scene has been dominated by its horse racing tracks for half a century, and while horse racing has died off a lot, arming these tracks with slot machines has now made them plenty popular. For those who are looking for genuine casinos with table games, poker, and sports betting in addition to slots, New Mexico’s Indian tribes have 27 different locations to enjoy. While the state’s tribes and the state work out a deal for online gambling, we’ll show you why players do not need to wait.

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Introduction to New Mexico Online Gambling

New Mexico has had legal gambling for a long time now, they just haven’t had very much of it until lately. The fact that pari-mutuel gambling has been going strong in New Mexico for over half a century now does speak to the state not having too many issues with the idea generally, although it did take them quite a while to open up their minds to casino gaming.

New Mexico’s mind has become a lot more opened now. Revenue seeking has tempted many a state to become more tolerant and even accepting toward legal gambling, but New Mexico having fewer qualms toward real money gambling has had it speaking more loudly than normal in this state.

This positive attitude has led to an above average gambling scene in the state thus far, with much more looming. We’ll show you where this all may be headed and all the things you can gamble at right now in New Mexico without even needing to wait.

History of Gambling in New Mexico

New Mexico Online Casinos and SlotsNew Mexico first legalized gambling in the 1930’s, during a period where several states started allowing it, and New Mexico was quick to jump on the bandwagon. Being open enough to gambling to pass a law making it legal to bet on horses and be among the first states to legalize it was definitely a good sign, but New Mexico did this at a time where there were no places in the state built to do this at, so this suggests an even higher degree of eagerness, not even waiting until there were even plans in place for anyone to offer it.

New Mexico’s approach to this was to take the view that if you legalize it, they will come, and it may have taken a few years, but that’s exactly what happened. La Mesa Park started taking bets in 1946, and others joined them, not only allowing New Mexicans to bet on the ponies but drawing a lot of people from neighboring states as well, especially Texas.

For over 40 years, New Mexico’s horse racing industry prospered, but Texas ended up legalizing it as well in 1987 and this took a considerable amount of business away from New Mexico pari-mutuel tracks. While this may have ended the glory days of New Mexico pari-mutuel racing, the industry has managed to survive through this and the later coming of the casinos, and there are still 5 of them that are still running today.

The very next year, 1988, saw the passing of the federal law that allowed Indian tribes to operate casinos on their own land, and this caused a cascade of Indian casinos to open up around the country. This took the right to say no away from states, but it did not take away their rights to delay this implementation through challenges in court, which was generally used as leverage to get tribes to agree to deals with states that was more liking to the states versus their not having any say at all in the matter.

It wasn’t until 1995 that the state of New Mexico and their Indian tribes finally came to an agreement where they would build casinos with the state’s permission. New Mexico took a cautious approach at first, limiting the tribes to bingo and slots, Class II gaming licenses as they are called, but their main interest wasn’t limiting the games that were to be offered as it was to ensure that the state got paid well from the arrangement.

1995 was also the year that New Mexico created their first lottery, and while they may have been near the front of the line when it came to legalizing betting on horses, they were right at the back of the line when it came to getting the lottery, being one of the very last states to do it among the great majority of states that now offer this form of gambling.

Both the lottery and finally coming to an agreement with the tribes not only beckoned a new view of real money gambling by the state of New Mexico, it also opened up a whole new revenue source for the state. With their appetite now whetted, the state went for more when they upped the license of New Mexico’s growing number of tribal casinos to Class III licenses, as well as letting the state’s 5 pari-mutuel tracks offer slot machines and become transformed into racinos.

This gave them the shot in the arm that they needed to continue to thrive in an industry that is struggling to stay alive in other areas of the country where they aren’t allowed to offer anything but pari-mutuel racing. These 5 racinos stand alongside the 21 tribal casinos and 6 other Indian owned enterprises that offer slots on the side, bringing the total number of places to gamble in New Mexico up to 33 at present.

New Mexico Key Facts

  • Abbreviation: NM
  • State Motto: Crescit eundo (It grows as it goes)
  • Capital City: Santa Fe
  • Largest City: Albuquerque
  • Population Estimate: 2.09 Million (36th)
  • Website:

New Mexico Gambling Laws

There are some who have come out and said that New Mexico has the most inclusive anti-gambling laws in the country based upon their defining making “a bet” as being against the law in the state. They don’t even make it to the first question, which is how making a bet is to be understood under this law.

We can’t just leave these things to common language as if this were to be used as broadly as some people think, then this is going to trap a whole lot of activities that are well beyond the scope of gambling law. If someone has a plate of food in front of them, and you bet them that they can’t eat at all, have you made a bet?

Both parties might be guilty of betting in this case because the other person told you that they bet you that they could. States therefore can’t just rely on common usage and need to define what will fall under their definition of betting, which can differ significantly from common usage once the conditions are set out.

One of these conditions includes the transfer of items of value between the parties based upon the outcome, and the other main one is to define the types of activities that this law will seek to restrain and prosecute.

Therefore, it’s not only important to know what acts the law prohibits, in this case betting, we also need to know what qualifies as betting under New Mexico law. They do spell it out for us, but we have to look in order to understand it at all and can’t just stop at the storefront, we have to go inside and look around. We also need to look around carefully and need to avoid adding our own color and judgement to the law, and if any is required, it is up to the courts to do it.

New Mexico defines it as “a bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance, even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose anything of value specified in the agreement.”

So, we now have the element of value being exchanged by the parties, which all gambling laws include unless it is illegal to play gambling games altogether, even for fun, as it is in South Carolina. This definition also further refines the scope of betting to also include games that are dependent upon chance even though this may involve skill as well.

This cashes out to any bet dependent predominately upon chance. If the outcome of the bet was predominately a matter of skill, then this would not fit the definition because we would have the reverse situation, a bet dependent upon skill primarily even though it may contain elements of chance.

Playing real money casino games therefore can easily be understood as qualifying as betting in New Mexico, and since it is illegal to bet, this sort of betting will be found to be illegal unless specifically authorized by law. Playing the state lottery would be an example of this, where this is indeed betting and would be illegal if not for the fact that the state has made this form of betting specifically legal.

Some casino games like blackjack or various forms of casino poker are dependent primarily upon chance but do have an element of skill, and these games have therefore been captured by the law. What about playing poker, which can be well argued that it is primarily a game of skill with elements of chance?

The law as written would not apply to poker, at least if the game of poker is understood properly. Some judges see it as being predominately a matter of chance when we are only looking at the outcome of a certain hand, a specific deal, yet do not realize that poker is still predominantly a game of skill even hand by hand.

The best hand doesn’t always win and often loses, and a great many hands in poker are decided purely on the basis of skill, where the hand does not even get to be decided based upon who has been dealt the best cards because the hand ends prior to hands being compared to see who had the best luck.

The fact that such a thing would come down to a court verdict and would depend so much on legal interpretation indicates a failure of the law in itself to provide sufficient direction. In practice, laws that read this way can go either way, and this usually comes down to how favorable judges view poker playing, with those in favor coming out on the side of it being allowed even in cases where it surely should not be, and laws like New Mexico’s which drop the ball on it and fail to include it but it being found to be even purely a game of chance in some cases.

Poker playing being legal in New Mexico therefore comes down to interpretation, but there is no interpretation required to understand that bets based upon skill aren’t included, which includes betting on sporting events or anything without elements of chance.

Land-Based Gambling in New Mexico

New Mexicans have been wagering on pari-mutuel races since 1946, and for almost 50 years, this was the only legal thing that you could bet on in the state. The legend continues at New Mexico’s 5 horse racing tracks that are currently in operation, all of which have been upgraded to racinos, where they all offer slots in addition to horse racing.

The Black Gold Casino at Zia Part Racetrack has added 750 slots to their horse racing cards, where you can bet from a penny to $100 per spin. The Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino has been taking bets on horses since 1947 and offering slots since 1999, with a current stable of 300 slots.

Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino has their races simulcast to over 800 locations across the country, and also offer 750 state of the art electronic gaming machines to play between races. The Sunray Park Casino offers both horse racing and over 400 electronic gaming machines, while the Downs Racetrack and casino adds 300 slots to their racing action.

New Mexico’s 13 Indian tribes add a total of 21 casinos and 6 other locations offering slots. The Route 66 Casino Hotel has 1,700 slots, with 40 table games, a poker room, and bingo. The Sandia Resort and Casino has 1,750 slots, 52 gaming tables, live keno, bingo, and the biggest poker room in the state. The Casino Apache Travel Center has 380 slots and 10 casino gaming tables. The Dancing Eagle Casino has 584 slot and gaming machines as well as live bingo. The Palace West hosts 90 slot and video poker machines.

The Inn of the Mountain Gods provides 840 slot and gaming machines, 35 casino table games, bingo, a poker room, and a William Hill branded sports book. They are one of 4 New Mexico Indian casinos that have gone off on their own to offer it while the state continues to mull over whether to approve it or not. They operate within federal jurisdiction and don’t need to pay attention to the state if they don’t wish to, and these 4 tribal casinos have chosen to go their own way on this.

The state isn’t too upset about this since they do get a nice cut of all of the gambling action on these casinos, and it’s actually infighting among the Indians themselves that has stood in the way of a comprehensive gambling bill thus far.

The Isleta Resort and Casino features 1,700 slots, including 100 high limit slots, 25 table games, a poker room, and bingo, as well as sports betting. The Apache Nugget offers 130 slot machines and bingo, with the Ohkay Hotel Casino featuring 700 slots, 5 gaming tables, and bingo. The Santa Claran Hotel Casino rolls out 750 gaming machines and 10 casino gaming tables. The Wild Horse Casino and Hotel offers 190 slots as well as live blackjack 3 nights a week.

The Fire Rock Navajo Casino boasts 740 slots and 10 table games, as well as a bingo hall. The Flowing Waters Navajo Casino features 120 slot machines in addition to a sportsbook. The Northern Edge Navajo Casino has 750 slots, 10 gaming tables, and a separate 8 table poker room. The Cities of Gold Casino Santa Fe offers 575 slots as well as simulcast horse and dog wagering.

The Buffalo Thunder Casino has 1,200 slot machines, 18 gaming tables, and both a race and sports book. The Tesuque Casino currently offers 750 slots with table games coming soon. The Black Mesa Casino has 600 slots and 10 table games. The Santa Ana Star Casino boasts 1,458 slots, 42 casino table games, a poker room, and a sportsbook.

The Taos Mountain Casino hosts 400 slot machines and 4 table games. The Sky Casino rounds out the list of New Mexico’s tribal casinos with 669 slots, 10 table games, and bingo. There are also 6 more “travel centers” operated by the tribes which offer a few slots to be enjoyed on their premises.

  • List of Land Based Casinos in New Mexico
    Apache Nugget Travel Center & CasinoJunction 537- US, US-550, Cuba, NM 87013575-289-2486
    Black Mesa Casino25 Hagen Rd, Algodones, NM 87001505-867-6700
    Casino Apache Travel CenterS High St, Ruidoso, NM 88345, United States505-464-6100
    Cities of Gold Casino10 Cities of Gold Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87506505-455-4232
    Dancing Eagle Casino167 Casa Blanca Rd, Paraje, NM 87007505-552-7777
    Flowing Waters Navajo Casino2710 US-64, Shiprock, NM 87420505-368-2300
    Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder20 Buffalo Thunder Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87506505-455-5555
    Inn of the Mountain Gods287 Carrizo Canyon Rd, Mescalero, NM 88340575-464-7059
    Isleta Resort & Casino11000 Broadway Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM 87105505-724-3800
    Northern Edge Navajo Casino2752 Indian Service Rd 36, Farmington, NM 87401505-960-7000
    Ohkay Hotel Casino68 NM-291, Ohkay Owingeh, NM 87566505-747-1668
    Palace West Casino2 NM-45, Albuquerque, NM 87105505-869-4102
    Sandia Resort & Casino30 Rainbow Rd, Albuquerque, NM 87113800-526-9366
    Santa Ana Star Casino54 Jemez Canyon Dam Rd, Bernalillo, NM 87004505-867-0000
    Santa Claran Hotel Casino460 N Riverside Dr, Española, NM 87532877-505-4949
    Sky City Casino Hotel7 Sky City Rd drive, Acoma Pueblo, NM 87034505-552-6123
    Taos Mountain Casino700 Veterans Hwy, Taos, NM 87571575-737-0777
    Tesuque Casino7 Tesuque Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87506800-462-2635
    Wild Horse Casino & Hotel13603 US-64, Dulce, NM 87528575-759-3663

New Mexico Online Casinos & Slots Gambling

New Mexico’s gambling law, as weak as it is, does not have any stipulations that would distinguish land-based gambling from online gambling, such as in some states where it makes it against the law to bet using a gambling device, where online gambling do not involve the use of gambling devices as set out by these laws.

Placing a real-money wager on a game that is at least predominantly based upon chance covers these bets made on a computer terminal or device as much as it does doing it at a casino table or at your kitchen table, so there’s nothing in the law at least that would even lead us to believe that betting online under the definition of betting in the law would be any different than any other form of betting.

However, the way that laws are enforced are also essential in giving them meaning, and New Mexico’s Gaming Control Board has weighed in on this and shares their view of online gambling and the law in this state, which gives us some valuable insight as it turns out.

They start by making the utterly ridiculous claim that online gambling is illegal in the United States by way of the UIGEA. The UIGEA does not make any form of gambling illegal, it merely prohibits financial transactions related to gambling already found to be illegal, and only applies to financial institutions. This doesn’t even apply to gaming operators, let alone players, but New Mexico is happy to leave this all up to the feds. There are no federal laws against gambling online as it turns out.

The New Mexico Gaming Control Board goes as far as to say that the State of New Mexico does not license or regulate or otherwise exert any effect upon whatever online gambling that may go on in their state, not realizing that if they do not prohibit it and look the other way, there’s no one else left to look.

This is how it cashes out in other states anyway, as anti-online gambling laws are meaningless in practice due to their not being a way to enforce them, and there are plenty of states that do take sides in this and even expressly prohibit any real money online gaming but are left out of the game entirely and have no way to know if people gamble online or not.

Perhaps having the state tell you that they do not get involved in any way in online gambling turns out to be for entertainment purposes only, where we can perhaps laugh at their utter lack of legal research, and you would think that someone on the board could have taken a few minutes to review the federal law that they are deferring to.

New Mexico doesn’t frown too much on online gambling, as this legal charade by their gaming control board suggests. There is even a movement afoot to bring online sports betting to the state, but the tribal casinos are pushing back. We might not think that the state would care about this, as this would seem to involve the tail wagging the dog, but these tribes pay the state $100 million a year these days in a shared revenue arrangement, so their views do need to at least be considered.

New Mexico is a lot like California, with different tribes taking different views on gambling. The Navajo have been pushing for regulated online gambling since 2013, but other tribes aren’t so crazy about the idea and the infighting continues and even has spilled over into a novel form of regulated gambling for the state, sports betting.

The fact that the Indians are complaining about online sports betting impacting their business when sports betting isn’t even permitted now is curious, but this goes to show just how guarded stakeholders can be when it comes to letting new competition in the door, even their own door.

Some stakeholders want to open things up completely, with not only online sports betting but online poker and casino as well, with some tribes being very ambitious and others being purely defensive in wanting to protect the status quo, with the state in the middle and wanting to preserve the sweet revenue sharing deal they have in place. The battle continues but they are at least having a serious conversation now, and some tribes have moved forward with offering land-based sports betting as the state figures out what they want to do.

Whether or not it is against New Mexico law to gamble online at certain games, where it is illegal to bet on casino games, questionably illegal to play real money online poker, and betting on sports being completely outside of the scope of this law, the state gaming control board is telling you that they won’t get involved, and they couldn’t even if they wanted to, aside from the barking they are doing against it on their website, but this dog has no teeth.

The New Mexico Gaming Control Board display their legal misunderstanding further when they advise that daily fantasy sports is not legal in New Mexico because the board hasn’t authorized it. They may wish to ask themselves what state law prohibits it. They not only didn’t research the UIGEA, they haven’t bothered to read their own state gambling laws either. The requirement that an act be restrained prior to it ever needing to be enabled by regulation is as fundamental of a legal principle as they come, and this demonstrates an utter lack of understanding of the way the law works.

As far as how this all cashes out in real life, people simply continue to gamble online all they want in New Mexico, at any game they wish so long as it is offered online in other jurisdictions that accept players from the state. Once you understand that there is nothing stopping you, nothing will stop you.

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Future of Gambling in New Mexico

For a state that only got the lottery in 1995, New Mexico is remarkably open to the idea of gambling these days, after they got the taste of all the revenue that gambling can bring. The lottery brings the state an extra $50 million a year, and another $100 million from their share of Indian gaming.

New Mexico is open to both expanding land-based and real money online gambling, and what is holding them back isn’t a lack of desire on their part for more but the battling that is going on between its various tribes who hold different views on the desirability of expanding the market further.

Some tribes wish to protect what they have now, while others are more eager to take a gamble on growing things even more. It wouldn’t be much of a gamble though on the online side of things at least, as online gambling caters to a different market altogether, and if anything, compliments the land-based industry by expanding the market for gambling in general and then seeing that spill over to increasing demand for genuine casino experiences.

This battle is going to take some more time to resolve, and we only need to look to how California’s tribes are still fighting over an online poker deal that the state has been eager to enter in for many years now, with the situation still unresolved and no end in sight.

It is likely just a matter of time before New Mexico gets a full allotment of real money online gambling, and the state just doesn’t want to start with sports betting necessarily, as there’s also interest in regulating real money online casino and poker as well.

While players wait for this wrestling match to be settled, the world of online gambling stands ready to serve all of their online gambling desires right now. If you wish to not wait until the dust settles, the skies are plenty clear now above the clouds of New Mexican squabbling, in the friendly skies of the world of real money online gambling that we will take all those who are willing and show them the best that the world has to offer.

New Mexico Online Slots & Casinos FAQs
  • How long has New Mexico had legal gambling?

    Once the Great Depression got underway, there was a movement in several states across the country to legalize wagering on horse races to help local economies and to provide some well needed entertainment. New Mexico was among those states, even though unlike other states on board with this, they didn’t have any tracks to place bets on. Several years later, in 1946, their first track started taking bets on their races.

  • What is it against the law to bet on in New Mexico?

    New Mexico law makes it a crime to bet on anything that the state hasn’t authorized, meaning that you can bet on their lottery or at their licensed horse racing tracks but you can’t bet at anything that they don’t tell you that you can. Like with all gambling laws, what is being prohibited, the act of betting, is subject to being defined by the law, and in New Mexico this means that you can’t bet things of value on outcomes primarily decided by chance.

  • Is playing poker for real money against the law in New Mexico?

    Although we would normally think of playing real money poker as involving betting, whether it is betting within the meaning of betting within New Mexico’s laws is what needs to be determined. Betting in New Mexico requires that the game predominantly be a game of chance, although if may have some elements of skill involved. Many have argued that poker is a game of chance predominantly, but this view doesn’t fit the facts very well, as even individual hands get decided by skill more than chance.

  • Is betting on sports illegal in New Mexico?

    Placing bets on things that the outcome becomes decided based upon skill, as sporting contests clearly are, surely cannot be understood as being decided predominantly upon chance, because chance does not play a meaningful role. The only thing close to chance in sports is a coin flip that some games use, but this has little effect on the outcome and certainly isn’t the predominant decider, so this would be outside the meaning of betting in New Mexico.

  • What land-based gambling options does New Mexico have?

    New Mexico has had pari-mutuel tracks since 1946, and currently have 5 of them that also double as slot casinos, termed racinos. They finally got a state lottery in 1995, the year that they reached an agreement with the state’s 13 Indian tribes, where the state agreed to step aside if they shared their profits with them. Today, there are a total of 21 Indian casinos in New Mexico, many of which offer both slots and table games.

  • Has sports betting come to New Mexico yet?

    New Mexico has been open to sports betting, as many states have recently, but they haven’t been able to hammer out a bill that makes their Indian tribes happy enough. Some tribes want land-based betting, some want online as well, and some do not want any part of it. 4 of the state’s tribal casinos have gone ahead and started offering it anyway, which the state is happy enough about, but a general agreement with all the tribes remains elusive.

  • What online gambling options does New Mexico offer?

    New Mexico has yet to license and regulate any online gambling of any sort, although this is not one of those states whose opposition to online gambling is so strong that we can be pretty confident that it won’t be showing up for a while. There’s not only talk of online sports betting but offering real money poker and casino games as well. It is just a matter of reaching enough of a consensus with the state’s Indian tribes.

  • What are the prospects of New Mexico expanding its gambling soon?

    For a state that has no online gambling or even has a sports betting bill passed yet, the prospects are very good that we will see regulated real money online gambling in New Mexico fairly soon. Approving this will bring more money to all stakeholders overall, both the tribes and the state, but they just need to sit down and figure out that this is actually the case a little better and the door should open wide.

  • Is it against the law to gamble online in New Mexico?

    New Mexico’s gambling laws apply equally online or offline, as if a certain form of gambling is found to be betting under their legal definition, the bet is placed in New Mexico in all cases and would be subject to New Mexico law. However, the state gaming board has said they are not going to be involved in looking to regulate it, and it wouldn’t matter if they did since they have no power to regulate or enforce offshore gambling.

  • Can New Mexicans gamble online for real money now?

    If and when New Mexico decides to regulate online gambling, which is likely just a matter of time, this will only mean that New Mexicans will have some new options to choose among, those that the state sanctions. The other options exist now, the ones at sites regulated elsewhere that accept players from the state. All you need is to know where the best places to play at, which we will share with you.


Associate Writer: Suzie has extensive experience writing on a number of different topics, but writing on slots remains her first love, and it really shows.