25 Aug 22

New Mexico has a rocky gaming history. When the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed by Congress in Nineteen Eighty Nine, it looked like New Mexico might be one of the states to get on the Amerindian casino craze. Politics assured that wouldn’t be the situation.

The New Mexico governor Bruce King assembled a task force in Nineteen Ninety to discuss an accord with New Mexico Amerindian tribes. When the task force arrived at an agreement with 2 important local tribes a year later, Governor King refused to sign the bargain. He held up a deal until Nineteen Ninety Four.

When a new governor took office in Nineteen Ninety Five, it appeared that Indian betting in New Mexico was now a certainty. But when Governor Gary Johnson signed the contract with the Indian bands, anti-wagering forces were able to hold the deal up in the courts. A New Mexico court ruled that the Governor had out stepped his bounds in signing the compact, therefore denying the state of New Mexico many hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees over the next several years.

It required the Compact Negotiation Act, signed by the New Mexico government, to get the process moving on a full compact between the Government of New Mexico and its American Indian tribes. A decade had been lost for gaming in New Mexico, including Native casino Bingo.

The not for profit Bingo industry has increased since Nineteen Ninety-Nine. That year, New Mexico non-profit game owners brought in only $3,048 in revenues. This number grew to $725,150 in 2000, and exceeded a million dollars in revenues in 2001. Nonprofit Bingo earnings have increased constantly since then. 2005 witnessed the largest year, with $1,233,289 grossed by the operators.

Bingo is clearly popular in New Mexico. All types of owners look for a bit of the action. Hopefully, the politicians are done batting over gaming as a key issue like they did in the 90’s. That is most likely wishful thinking.


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