New Mexico’s casino stakeholders are pushing a major gaming expansion that would allow online casino gaming and sports betting. The proposal, as drafted, would make New Mexico the first western state with mobile casino gaming, but faces multiple political and logistical challenges before the legislation has even been introduced.
In addition to mobile and retail sports betting, the state’s five commercial, hybrid horse track–casino “racinos” are asking lawmakers to permit “Las Vegas-style compensation” such as lodging and food comps, allow alcohol to be served while patrons play games and reduce facility caps on slot machines.
Facing dwindling revenues and increasing layoffs, racino officials told the New Mexico Legislature’s Legislative Finance Committee these moves are essential if they are to remain viable in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the “Gaming Recovery Act” passes, New Mexico would be the first state west of the Mississippi River to approve online casino gaming and just the fourth, after Iowa, Oregon, Colorado and Nevada, with mobile sports betting.
To do so would require not just legislative approval but a renegotiated compact with the state’s gaming tribes, a difficult process that faces headwinds even before the bill has been introduced.
Revenues Complicate Commercial Gaming Expansion
In exchange for expanded casino gaming, the tracks’ proposal would eliminate the revenue sharing taxes tribes are required to pay to the state. Tribes currently pay between 2% and 10% of annual adjusted gaming net win, depending on revenues, as