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Legal New Mexico Gambling & Poker Laws

How to Gamble in New Mexico
Legal New Mexico Gambling & Poker Laws
Last Updated November 17, 2018

New Mexico wasn’t left out of the online poker boom in the United States.  While on the smaller side population-wise, the state still contributes more than its fair share of online poker players to the global player pool.

There has been little to indicate that New Mexico has a serious interest in regulating online poker (or any form of online gambling, for that matter).  Poker is certainly popular in the state, and with plenty of other regulated forms of gambling it’s certainly not a stretch to imagine that New Mexico might eventually authorize and regulate online poker & gambling.  But for now, the state is far behind peers such as Nevada and Delaware, meaning New Mexicans likely have a wait of several years before state-regulated poker comes online.

With new players from New Mexico coming online every day, we’ve constructed this handy survey of the history, the law and the future of online card games – our Guide to Online Poker in New Mexico.

New Mexico Gambling & Poker Laws Summarized

Type/CodeSummary
State Code Section(s)30.19; 60.1-1A; 60.2B, 60.2E-F
Definition of GameAn activity in which, upon payment of consideration, a player receives a prize or other thing of value, the award of which is determined by chance even though accompanied by some skill; “game” does not include an activity played in a private residence in which no person makes money for operating the activity except through winnings as a player.
Definition of Gambling DeviceA contrivance other than an antique gambling device that is not licensed for use pursuant to the Gaming Control Act that, for a consideration, affords the player an opportunity to obtain anything of value, the award of which is determined by chance, even though accompanied by some skill, whether or not the prize is automatically paid by the device.
Definition of Bet A bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance, even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose anything of value specified in the agreement.
Definition of GamblingMaking a bet or entering or remaining in a gambling place with intent to make a bet, to participate in a lottery or to play a gambling device.
Online Poker/GamblingFormer Governor Gary Johnson spoke in favor of online poker beginning in 2008 but never proposed a law. No legislator has put forth a bill to legalize online poker or casino games.
Live PokerThere are poker rooms in some of the Native American casinos and racinos in the state, mostly offering cash game tables.
CasinosThere are several race tracks with casino games (racinos) and numerous Indian-led casinos on reservations throughout the state.
Sports BettingNew Mexico has not considered legislation to legalize sports betting.
DFSThe last time daily fantasy contests were considered was in 2016, and the bill did not pass.
Other Forms of GamblingHorse racing and on-track pari-mutuel wagering, lottery, bingo.

Online Poker in New Mexico

With so many poker sites to choose from, what makes one room better than another for poker players from New Mexico?  When we built our list of the best New Mexico online poker rooms, we gave the heaviest weight to three characteristics: Legality (does the room hold a proper license to operate?), Value (how generous are the bonuses and promotions) and Security (does the room have a track record of handling player funds in a responsible manner?).  With those characteristics in mind, we’ve selected these real money poker rooms as the best places for New Mexicans to play poker online:

Poker Sites Open to Players From Your State
Bovada$500 Bonus3-4 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Bitcoin, Wires
Ignition$2000 Bonus3-4 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Bitcoin, Wires
Intertops$600 Bonus5 Day PayoutsAccepts Visa, Wires

New Mexico & Online Gambling / Poker Laws

As is often the case when it comes to US state law, the law of New Mexico regarding gambling is a patchwork of regulations and definitions issued at a variety of times with a variety of unique intentions – not all of them coherent.

Gambling is defined hyper-broadly under New Mexico state law.  Section 30.19-2 defines gambling as “making a bet,” going to a place with the intention of making a bet, or running a lottery or acquiring supplies with an intent to run a lottery.  Doing so is a misdemeanor.

The next obvious question – what’s a bet?  According to New Mexico, it’s

“a bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance, even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose anything of value specified in the agreement” (Section 30-19-1(B)).

All activity that meets these definitions is illegal by default.  New Mexico law then makes exceptions for “betting otherwise permitted by law” (Section 30-19-1(B)).

The most substantial penalties under New Mexico gambling law are aimed at the individuals operating the illegal gambling activity.  Those doing so in New Mexico are potentially subject to charges of Commercial gambling (Section 30-19-3),Permitting premises to be used for gambling (Section 30-19-5)and Dealing in gambling devices (Section 30-19-5).

New Mexico Gambling Control Board uses the UIGEA to say:

“The State of New Mexico and the New Mexico Gaming Control Board do not regulate, license, control or in ANY way sanction, endorse or approve an internet or online gambling, betting activity, wagering or any aspect thereof. Any statement, reference or opinion to the contrary is wrong. Such activity is strictly prohibited and not authorized, approved or sanctioned in any manner by New Mexico regulatory authorities.”

You should retain the services of a lawyer if you need a definitive answer regarding the legality of any activity.  In this section, we are only highlighting some of the foundations of New Mexico gambling law to provide you with a head start on reviewing the state statutes below yourself.

NM Gambling Facts & Future

There are essentially three phases to the history of gambling and poker in NM.  The first can be called a “pre-regulatory” phase that existed from the state’s origins through the early 20th century.  The second is the “pari-mutuel” phase, ushered in by a horse racing boom in the 1940s that stretched well into the 1980s.  That brings us to the third phase in New Mexico’s gambling history, one that can accurately be described as a “massive expansion” phase.  This phase took place in the 1990s and saw a state lottery and widespread tribal gambling enter the lexicon of state-endorsed gambling.

What are the Regulated Gambling Options in New Mexico?

Commercial interests saw the progress made by tribes at the state level and pushed for their own slot machines at racetracks and similar businesses.  Their success in the early 2000s means that New Mexico now offers all major forms of regulated gambling. The state of New Mexico does not directly regulate, license or endorse any forms of online gambling.

New Mexico Gambling Resources

State of New Mexico Gaming Control Board .  As always, the state GCB website is the best starting point for objective information about the laws, regulations and financial statistics concerning the regulated gambling industry.

NMCPG.org.  24-hour help and always-available resources are the primary features of the website for the New Mexico Council on Problem Gambling.

UNLV New Mexico Report.  A handy, comprehensive overview of regulated gambling in New Mexico prepared and updated by the UNLV Center for Gaming Research.

New Mexico and Poker Culture

While New Mexico hasn’t produced many top-flight poker stars, the state recently laid claim to a unique piece of poker history.  It was in New Mexico, back in July of 2012 at the Route 66 Casino, that Greg Raymer started his historic run of four Heartland Poker Tour titles in as many months.

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has been followed the US market closely for the last 7 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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