New Mexico Sports Betting

Last updated: Aug 24, 2023

New Mexico Sports Betting

New Mexico lawmakers have never passed any sports betting legislation, but the Native American tribes in NM provide retail sports betting. The state signed gaming compacts in 2015 to allow the tribes to offer all types of Class III gaming. These gaming compacts also specified that sports betting was a type of Class III gaming.

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While this agreement was signed in 2015, the tribes waited for the US Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) before launching sports betting. After the Court struck down PASPA, allowing each state to create sports betting legislation, the tribes started preparing for the launch of retail sportsbooks in their land-based casino venues. In October 2018, NM was the sixth US state to accept bets when the Santa Ana Star Casino opened its betting facility.

There are now five brick-and-mortar casinos offering sports betting in New Mexico. While local tribes operate most sportsbooks, some have welcomed third-party operators like Caesars to provide odds and markets. Individual tribal authorities handle oversight of all sports betting. Therefore, as sports betting is only allowed on tribal land, online sports betting has not yet launched in New Mexico.

Read our complete guide to New Mexico sports betting, where our experts cover the history of sports betting in NM, teams to bet on in the state, and events you can bet on at legal New Mexico sportsbooks.

New Mexico Legislation Timeline

  • June 30, 2015: New Mexico lawmakers and tribes agree to amendments to the Class III tribal gaming compact. The new wording classifies sports betting as Class III gaming.
  • May 14, 2018: The US Supreme Court strikes down PASPA, ending the federal ban on sports betting outside the grandfathered states. This gives New Mexico the right to legalize sports betting.
  • October 9, 2018: The Santa Ana Star Casino announces a partnership with USBookmaking to launch a retail sportsbook under the regulations of the Class III gaming compact.
  • October 16, 2018: The First legal sports bets are accepted at the Santa Ana Star Casino, making New Mexico the sixth state after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA to accept wagers.
  • October 31, 2018: The New Mexico Lottery Authority announces plans to offer a sports parlay game.
  • March 4, 2019: The New Mexico House passes HB 441, introduced by Representatives Jason C. Harper, Matthew McQueen, and Rod Montoya, to stop the New Mexico Lottery from offering its sports parlay game. The bill passes the House but not the Senate, but this is enough for the Lottery to abandon its plans.
  • March 11, 2019: The Hilton Buffalo Thunder Casino, owned by the Pueblo of Pojoaque, opens its retail sportsbook, becoming the second tribal casino to accept sports bets.
  • July 25, 2019: The Mescalero Apache Tribe opens a Caesars-branded sportsbook at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino.
  • August 29, 2019: The Route 66 Casino, owned by the Pueblo of Laguna, opens a sportsbook in partnership with the Las Vegas Dissemination Company.
  • November 4, 2019: The Isleta Resort & Casino opens a retail sportsbook, becoming the fifth tribe to offer sports betting at its tribal casino locations.
  • January 16, 2020: The Navajo Nation discusses opening a sportsbook at its three New Mexico tribal casinos. These are Fire Rock Navajo Casino, Flowing Water Casino, and Northern Ridge Casino.

New Mexico Sports Betting Handle

A betting handle tells you how much has been wagered in a state over a specific period. You can use this information to measure interest in sports betting and see the impact of new rules and regulations. While sports betting is available in New Mexico, there is no official sports betting handle published in the state because the tribes have no obligation to share this information with the public.

New Mexico Sports Teams

As there are no major league sports teams in New Mexico, most sports fans in the state get behind local college teams. College sports betting is available at most sportsbooks in NM, but some may limit bets on in-state teams.

New Mexico’s two NCAA Division I college programs are the most prominent sports teams in the state. The University of New Mexico Lobos compete in the Mountain West Conference (MWC), and the New Mexico State University Aggies play in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The two schools are among the smaller colleges in Division I NCAA sports but have still made quite an impact. Check out an overview of both teams’ histories below.

New Mexico State University Aggies logo
New Mexico State University Aggies

The college athletics program of New Mexico State University, nicknamed the Aggies, sponsors six men’s and eight women’s NCAA-sanctioned sports teams. Its most prominent programs are men’s basketball, football, and golf teams. The Aggies compete in the Western Athletic Conference for all men’s and women’s sports except for football, where it competes as an independent FBS side.

NM State’s men’s basketball team reached the NCAA Tournament Final Four in 1970 and has won the WAC nine times since joining in 2007. The program has made it to 26 NCAA Tournaments overall. 

The university’s football side has been less successful, only posting five winning seasons since 1967. The team has appeared in five bowl games, winning the 1959 and 1960 Sun Bowls. In 2017, it won its first bowl in fifty-six seasons, beating Utah State University Aggies in the Arizona Bowl. The team also played the Bowling Green State University Falcons in the 2022 Quick Lane Bowl.

The most successful college athletics side at New Mexico State is its men’s golf team, which has claimed 17 conference championships and produced 2002 PGA Championship winner Rich Beem.

University of New Mexico Lobos logo
University of New Mexico Lobos

The New Mexico Lobos is the name of the college athletics program of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Participating in NCAA Division I in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) since 1999, the school also sponsors seven men’s and nine women’s teams in NCAA-sanctioned sports.

The New Mexico Lobos men’s basketball team was established in 1899 but only really began to field a competitive team in 1903. It has played in the NCAA Tournament fourteen times and reached the second round on seven occasions. The team plays at “The Pit”, an underground arena with a court 37 feet below street level. The first game at the Pit was held in 1966.

UNM’s football program began in 1892 and now has significant rivalries with New Mexico State and the University of Arizona Wildcats. Games between the Lobos and the Wildcats are known as the “Kit Carson Rifle.” The Lobos have appeared in 12 bowl games since 1939, winning the 1946 Sun Bowl, 1961 Aviation Bowl, and 2007 and 2016 New Mexico Bowl. Its football program plays at University Stadium. 

Its women’s cross-country program has been the school’s most successful team, winning two national championships in 2015 and 2017. In 2018, the school placed second nationally.

New Mexico Sporting Events

Alongside its college sports teams, New Mexico also hosts several popular sporting events. These include the famous in-state rivalry between the state’s two NCAA Division I colleges and a bowl game that acts as the opener to Bowl Mania. Read more about New Mexico sporting events below.

Rio Grande Rivalry

The Rio Grande Rivalry is an annual event that pits the college athletics programs of the University of New Mexico Lobos against the New Mexico State University Aggies in various varsity sports. The centrepiece of the rivalry is the matchup between the two schools’ football teams. 

The inaugural meeting of the two schools was in January 1894 in Albuquerque. Until 1937, the series was competitive, with both teams winning games. However, the New Mexico Lobos became dominant after 1937, winning eighteen consecutive meetings between 1938 and 1958. This was the first of several long winning streaks for the Lobos, including ten straight wins between 1977 and 1987 and six straight wins between 2003 and 2009.

The longest winning streak of victories for the Aggies was four between 1965 and 1969. New Mexico State has recently been more competitive in the rivalry, with the Aggies winning three straight games from 2009/2011 and back-to-back games in 2016 and 2017.

New Mexico Bowl

The New Mexico Bowl is a college football game played annually since 2006 at University Stadium, the home field of the New Mexico Lobos. It is traditionally one of the first games of bowl season. The bowl has tie-ins with Conference USA (C-USA) and the Mountain West Conference (MWC).

The inaugural edition of the game was on December 23, 2006, when the San Jose State University Spartans beat New Mexico Lobos in front of 34,111. Future Green Bay Packers Super Bowl winner James Jones was the offensive MVP for the maiden event.

The New Mexico Lobos and Colorado State University Rams are the most successful teams in the event’s history, winning twice. The MWC has had the most success of any conference in the contest, with an 11-5 record. Air Force, Boise State, and UNLV are the only sides from the MWC that have not appeared in the New Mexico Bowl.

New Mexico Land-Based Sportsbooks

There is no mobile betting available in New Mexico. Therefore, the only way to bet legally is to visit a retail sportsbook in person. While this means you can’t bet from the comfort of your own home, you can still enjoy the exciting experience and atmosphere of sports betting.

You’ll find HD screens showing the latest sports events at most retail sportsbooks, and you can share the experiences of watching sports with hundreds of other fans. While watching, you can enjoy amenities like bars and restaurants and relax in lounge seating. Below is a list of the five casinos that offer sports betting in the Land of Enchantment.

Hilton Buffalo Thunder CasinoSanta Fe
Caesars SportsbookInn of the Mountain Gods, Mescalero
Isleta Resort & CasinoAlbuquerque
Route 66 CasinoAlbuquerque
Santa Ana Star CasinoBernalillo

New Mexico Responsible Gambling

The New Mexico Gaming Control Board operates a state-wide self-exclusion program where you can ban yourself from all forms of legalized gambling. This includes visiting a land-based casino and betting at a sportsbook. You must visit the New Mexico Gaming Control Board office in person to complete the self-exclusion process, but you should book an appointment before you arrive.

You’ll need to provide personal information like your Social Security number to join the self-exclusion list. You will also need a photo ID. The self-exclusion program has three options for people wanting to prohibit themselves - one year, five years, or a lifetime. Once you are on the self-exclusion list, you can’t remove yourself until your chosen time period has elapsed.


Yes, you can bet on sports in New Mexico. While no legislation has passed to legalize sports betting specifically, wagering is considered Class III gaming through tribal gaming compacts. Tribes are allowed to offer all forms of Class III gaming. You can visit a tribal casino with a retail sportsbook to place bets.

Yes, horse racing betting is legal in New Mexico. Five race tracks are operating in the state where you can place pari-mutuel bets, all regulated by the New Mexico Racing Commission. These include Ruidoso Downs, Sunland Park, Sunray Park, The Downs, and Zia Park. However, there are no off-track betting locations in NM. You can also bet online using a horse racing betting site like TVG and TwinSpires.

No, you can’t use DraftKings Sportsbook in New Mexico. Online sports betting is not yet legal, and the operator has partnered with a local tribal casino to provide retail betting. However, DraftKings’ Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) contests are available.

No, you cannot use the BetMGM Sportsbook in New Mexico because lawmakers are yet to pass legislation that legalizes mobile sports betting. This means the BetMGM Sportsbook app is unavailable, and no retail sportsbook operated by BetMGM has opened.

To gamble at New Mexico’s tribal casinos, you must be 21 or older. You will need to bring a valid photo ID with you to prove your age before you play. However, you can sign up with DFS sites or online horse racing betting sites and play if you are 18 or older.

When you are gambling at tribal casinos, the state withholds six percent of your winnings for tax purposes. This includes sports betting winnings. However, you will not be charged this fee if you are a member or the spouse of a member of the nation, tribe, or pueblo on which the casino is situated. Additionally, you will need to declare all your gambling winnings to the IRS and fill out a W-2G form if you win more than $600.

There are five tribal casinos in New Mexico which provide retail sportsbooks. You can visit the Hilton Buffalo Thunder Casino, Caesars Sportsbook at Inn of the Mountain Gods, Isleta Resort & Casino, Route 66 Casino, and Santa Ana Star Casino to place legal bets. Online sports betting is not legal in NM.

Individual tribal authorities are responsible for overseeing sports betting on tribal land in NM. No sports betting legislation has passed in New Mexico, so all wagering is offered through gaming compacts signed in 2015. For instance, the Pueblo of Santa Ana Gaming Commission is the central authority of the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel, and Laguna Tribal Gaming Regulatory Authority oversees the Sportsbook at the Route 66 Casino.


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