New Mexico Online Poker Law
With more than 20 tribal casinos, the online poker trail will be blazed by the 14 tribes that run the casino industry in New Mexico. As of late 2013, there was no public push by the tribes to get an online poker or online gambling bill introduced.
In fact, the opposite is the case.
The Navajo Nation is using its slot-machine revenue as leverage in case any form of online gambling, including poker, is legalized in New Mexico.
The Navajo Nation, with apparent support from the governor’s office, wants to ratify its agreement with the state to protect its own substantial casino-generated revenue stream. The Navajos want the option to stop paying New Mexico a portion of its revenue if any form of online gambling is legalized.
The agreement not only mentions online poker, but seems to target it.
In New Mexico, the tribes have a revenue-sharing agreement with the state. The agreement is designed to be mutually beneficial to both the tribes and the state. Essentially, the tribes pay the state money — more than $68.3 million in 2012 — and the state limits competition.
The Navajo Nation is pushing to add an opt-out clause to the compact that would allow it to stop sharing revenue with New Mexico if any form of online gambling comes to the state.
According to the Albuquerque Journal: “Under the proposed new compact with the Navajos, the tribe could stop making revenue-sharing payments to the state if the state authorized Internet wagering on any casino or poker games or entered a multistate Internet gambling agreement.”
The Governor’s office is behind the change, which would most likely become standard among the rest of the casino tribes of New Mexico. This would mean all online poker legislation will go nowhere unless it’s backed or sponsored by these tribal members.
Here’s the official stance from the governor’s office: “While the impact of Internet gaming is uncertain, the state believes that brick-and-mortar (tribal) facilities will provide for more jobs and better serve the interests of New Mexico economic development.”
This compact would be especially bad for New Mexico’s online-poker community because in it, the Navajos agreed not to engage in Internet gambling as long as the state doesn’t authorize online poker or if a federal law isn’t passed.
As of late 2013, the pact with the Navajos hasn’t been revised. It will be again up for consideration in 2014.
The rest of the New Mexico casino Indian Nation is made up the following tribes: Jicarilla Apache Nation, Mesclaero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero, Navajo Nation, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo of San Juan, Pueblo of Acoma, Pueblo of Isleta, Pueblo of Laguna, Pueblo of Pojoaque, Pueblo of San Felipe, Pueblo of Sandia, Pueblo of Santa Ann, Pueblo of Santa Clara, Pueblo of Taos, and the Pueblo of Tesuque.
When Will I Get to Play Online Poker in New Mexico?
Unless the pact revision is an attempt for the Navajos to ensure that they are the ones who get access to New Mexico’s online poker players, it’s going to be a long time before online poker comes to New Mexico.