New Mexico Lottery’s Sports Gambling Move Won’t Include Bets

New Mexico Lottery’s Sports Gambling Move Won’t Include Bets

New Mexico may not see full-scale sports betting in the immediate future, but that hasn’t stopped state lottery officials from exploring new wagering options on sporting events.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Wednesday that state lottery officials may look at expanding gaming options tied to sports. New Mexico Lottery Authority CEO told the paper his organization believes new games could be a novel means to expand revenues.

That could include a parlay bet on NFL games where a computer randomly picks the outcomes of a group of games, giving the a player a winning ticket when the computer predicts every game correctly.

Plans, for now, do not include wagers on single-game sporting events.

New Mexico Lawmakers Have Yet To Embrace Sports Betting

The Supreme Court decision earlier this year to strike down the federal ban on sports betting opened up all 50 states to allow legal sports gambling. State lawmakers were still required to legalize sports wagering in their own jurisdictions, and several states began that process, some even before the court’s decision.

New Mexico was not among them. Though the Land of Enchantment has an extensive gambling infrastructure with a state lottery that takes in more than $100 million in revenue annually and a group of more than two-dozen New Mexico casinos and horse tracks that take in millions more, lawmakers have not advanced any legislation to expand sports betting.

A primary concern remains compacts between the legislature and the state’s recognized Native American tribes, which operate the state’s casinos. As with many other states like Florida with Native American casinos, the government grants exclusivity for certain types of games in exchange for a portion of the revenue that goes back to the state. Granting sports betting exclusivity to the tribes could alienate the state’s horse track owners, some of whom have already petitioned to take bets.

Lawmakers are also awaiting the outcome of this fall’s elections, according to media reports. Incumbent Gov. Susana Martinez is term limited and Republican Steve Pearce as well as Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham are running to replace her. Neither has made sports betting a major campaign topic and reports indicate both candidates will prioritize more pressing issues facing New Mexico. State Rep. Moe Maestas told the New Mexican he wasn’t optimistic of a quick legislative approach.

“That is a whole can of worms we may not be able to handle in the first year of a new administration,” Maestas said.

Southwest Remains Behind Northeast

Excluding Nevada, the southwestern United States, and the entire western portion of the country overall, has been slow to embrace sports betting. States like California, Texas and Colorado have had preliminary discussions about taking bets but have made no major legislative pushes.

Meanwhile the northeast has been at the forefront of sports betting legislation. Pennsylvania, New York, New York, Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island have passed sports betting bills, and more in the mid-Atlantic and New England remain open to expansion. Other states like Mississippi and West Virginia have also passed laws, and a host of other states in the Midwest and elsewhere have introduced gambling legislation.

New Mexico may not have the same threat of regional competition northeastern states face, but the sluggish response to sports betting may put it further behind as an increasing number of states take their first bets.

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