New Mexico Bingo

New Mexico has a stormy gambling past. When the IGRA was passed by Congress in 1989, it looked like New Mexico might be one of the states to get on the Indian casino bandwagon. Politics assured that would not be the case.

The New Mexico governor Bruce King assembled a panel in 1990 to discuss a compact with New Mexico Amerindian tribes. When the panel arrived at an agreement with two important local bands a year later, the Governor declined to sign the bargain. He held up a deal until 1994.

When a new governor took office in Nineteen Ninety Five, it seemed that Native gambling in New Mexico was a certainty. But when Governor Gary Johnson passed the compact with the Amerindian bands, anti-gaming groups were able to tie the accord up in the courts. A New Mexico court ruled that the Governor had out stepped his bounds in signing the deal, thereby 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, passed by the New Mexico government, to get the ball rolling on a full contract amongst the Government of New Mexico and its Amerindian bands. 10 years had been burned for gambling in New Mexico, which includes Native casino Bingo.

The nonprofit Bingo business has gotten bigger 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 passed a million dollars in 2001. Nonprofit Bingo earnings have increased constantly since then. 2005 witnessed the biggest year, with $1,233,289 grossed by the operators.

Bingo is categorically popular in New Mexico. All kinds of operators try for a piece of the action. Hopefully, the politicians are through batting around gambling as a key issue like they did back in the 90’s. That’s probably hopeful thinking.


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