Bingo in New Mexico

New Mexico has a bitter gaming past. When the IGRA was passed by the House in Nineteen Eighty Nine, it looked like New Mexico would be one of the states to cash in on the American Indian casino craze. Politics guaranteed that wouldn’t be the case.

The New Mexico governor Bruce King appointed a working group in 1990 to draft an accord with New Mexico Native bands. When the working group came to an agreement with two big local tribes a year later, the Governor declined to sign the bargain. He would hold 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 now a certainty. But when Governor Gary Johnson signed the contract with the American Indian tribes, anti-gambling forces were able to hold the accord up in courts. A New Mexico court found that the Governor had out stepped his bounds in signing the deal, thus costing the state of New Mexico many hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees over the next several years.

It took the Compact Negotiation Act, passed by the New Mexico government, to get the process moving on a full contract amongst the State of New Mexico and its American Indian bands. A decade had been squandered for gaming in New Mexico, including Amerindian casino Bingo.

The nonprofit Bingo business has grown since 1999. That year, New Mexico non-profit game owners brought in only $3,048 in revenues. This number grew to $725,150 in 2000, and exceeded a million dollars in revenues in 2001. Nonprofit Bingo revenues have increased steadily since then. Two Thousand and Five witnessed the largest year, with $1,233,289 earned by the providers.

Bingo is clearly favored in New Mexico. All kinds of providers look for a piece of the pie. Hopefully, the politicians are done batting around gaming as a hot button matter like they did in the 1990’s. That is probably wishful thinking.

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