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Bingo in New Mexico
November 18th, 2021 by Kirsten

New Mexico has a bitter gaming past. When the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was signed by the House in 1989, it seemed like New Mexico would be one of the states to get on the American Indian casino bandwagon. Politics guaranteed that wouldn’t be the case.

The New Mexico governor Bruce King appointed a task force in 1990 to negotiate a contract with New Mexico American Indian tribes. When the panel arrived at an agreement with two big local bands a year later, the Governor declined to sign the agreement. He held up a deal until Nineteen Ninety Four.

When a new governor took office in Nineteen Ninety Five, it seemed that Amerindian gaming in New Mexico was a certainty. But when Governor Gary Johnson passed the contract with the American Indian tribes, anti-wagering forces were able to tie the accord up in the courts. A New Mexico court found that the Governor had out stepped his bounds in signing a deal, thus costing the state of New Mexico many hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing revenues over the next several years.

It required the CNA, signed by the New Mexico legislature, to get the ball rolling on a full compact between the State of New Mexico and its Native tribes. 10 years had been lost for gaming in New Mexico, including Native casino Bingo.

The non-profit Bingo industry has gotten bigger from 1999. That year, New Mexico not for profit game owners acquired only $3,048. This number grew to $725,150 in 2000, and passed one million dollars in 2001. Nonprofit Bingo revenues have increased constantly since then. 2005 saw the biggest year, with $1,233,289 earned by the owners.

Bingo is clearly favored in New Mexico. All kinds of owners look for a piece of the action. Hopefully, the politicians are through batting over gambling as a key matter like they did back in the 90’s. That is without doubt wishful thinking.


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