20 Jun 20

New Mexico has a stormy gambling history. When the IGRA was passed by the House in Nineteen Eighty Nine, it seemed like New Mexico might be one of the states to cash in on the Native casino craze. Politics assured that would not be the case.

The New Mexico governor Bruce King appointed a panel in 1990 to negotiate a compact with New Mexico Indian tribes. When the task force arrived at an accord with 2 big local tribes a year later, the Governor refused to sign the bargain. He would hold up a deal until Nineteen Ninety Four.

When a new governor took over in Nineteen Ninety Five, it appeared that American Indian gaming in New Mexico was a certainty. But when Governor Gary Johnson signed the compact with the Indian tribes, anti-wagering forces were able to hold the contract up in courts. A New Mexico court ruled that Governor Johnson had overstepped his bounds in signing the deal, thereby costing the government of New Mexico hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees over the next several years.

It required the Compact Negotiation Act, passed by the New Mexico legislature, to get the ball rolling on a full compact between the State of New Mexico and its Indian tribes. Ten years had been lost for gambling in New Mexico, which includes Native casino Bingo.

The non-profit Bingo industry has increased from 1999. In that year, New Mexico not for profit game owners brought in just $3,048. This number grew to $725,150 in 2000, and surpassed a million dollars in revenues in 2001. Nonprofit Bingo earnings have grown steadily since then. 2005 witnessed the largest year, with $1,233,289 grossed by the owners.

Bingo is apparently beloved in New Mexico. All types of operators look for a slice of the pie. With hope, the politicians are through batting over gaming as a key issue like they did back in the 90’s. That is probably wishful thinking.


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