New Mexico Tribal Casino Will Soon Accept Sports Bets

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Beginning October 16, a tribal casino will become the first in New Mexico to offer live sports wagering on professional and college sports.

With sports betting going live at the Santa Ana Star Casino, New Mexico joins New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia and Mississippi in states that have approved legal sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for it in May.

Nevada has had legal sports betting for years and it is expected that Pennsylvania and Rhode Island should have legal sportsbooks by the 2019.

Since the high-court ruling, tribal leaders across the U.S. operating with state compacts have been revisiting those agreements. In Mississippi, the Choctaw was the first tribe to offer sports betting outside Nevada.

“We are extremely proud of the fact that Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel is the first tribal casino in the state of New Mexico, and one of the first in the nation, to launch a sportsbook,” Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel Chief Executive Officer John Cirrincione said in a statement.

The Santa Ana Star Casino is governed by the Pueblo of Santa Ana Gaming Regulatory Commission, and its sportsbook will be managed by the Las Vegas-based operator USBookmaking, which will provide sports betting risk services.

“We have found that there is tremendous demand for a Nevada-style retail sports book operation in a multitude of casinos throughout the U.S.,” Vic Salerno, president of USBookmaking, said in a press release. “We specialize in the ability to get to market quickly and operate efficiently.”

Under existing gaming compacts, the state of New Mexico will not receive any revenue from the Santa Ana venture, including betting that requires a person including table games and, now, sports betting. New Mexico, however, does receive a percentage of receipts from video poker and slot machines.

Right now, mobile wagering is not on the table and the sportsbook will be retail only.

Cirrincione confirmed that bets will not bet taken at the casino for either University of New Mexico or New Mexico State University games.

"We are planning to take bets on all major professional and collegiate sports with the exception of UNM and New Mexico State," Cirrincione told the Albuquerque Journal. "Although we believe there would be interest on betting on local teams, we believe it best not to take bets on these teams."

He also said there generally will be lower limits on bets than at other sportsbooks. Specific betting limits have not been announced. It also has not been disclosed what percentage of the profit the casino will make and how much will be kept by USBookmaking.

"Sports betting has a very small house advantage and is quite labor intensive," Cirrincione told the Sun News. "Since we won't be taking the big bets you would see in Las Vegas (Nev.), our net profit projections are between a small profit and a small loss. Our intent of adding the sports book is to add another amenity for guests but not necessarily as a significant profit center."

The Santa Ana sportsbook will operate noon to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends. Two self-service kiosks will be available during off-hours.

No alcohol will be served in the sportsbook area, just as it isn’t allowed on the gaming floor. Major sporting events will continue to be shown on screens around the casino as they are now, Cirrincione said.

According to the American Gaming Association, more than $150 billion is wagered annually on sports in the U.S. – about 97 percent with online sportsbooks based all over the world.

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