New Mexico is a state known for its conspiracy theories, but an author of a bill prohibiting the state lottery from offering sports betting tells Legal Sports Report that the legislation is as simple as it seems.
The legislature wants to rein in the New Mexico Lottery Authority from plans for a new game that would be tied to the outcome of sporting events. The bill comes as one tribe has already started offering sports wagering in the state.
The bill, H 441, wouldn’t limit current tribal rights to offer sports betting or impact any future legislative expansion of the activity, according to Rep. Matthew McQueen, who is a sponsor along with colleagues Jason C. Harper and Rod Montoya.
“This is just telling the lottery authority that we created the lottery to do lottery games, not sports betting,” McQueen said. “They’re trying to expand, and we’re trying to keep them focused on their given authority.”
Little New Mexico lottery with big plans
The New Mexico lottery board voted unanimously to approve the sports betting game for all its retail outlets in October. It is described as a parlay-like wager involving the possible outcomes of at least three sporting events.
Lottery CEO David Barden projected that the game would generate $30 million in revenue a year, with $9 million going to the lottery-funded tuition-assistance program for college students.
Barden told the Albuquerque Journal that the goal was to make the lottery attractive to younger people. “It's not your grandmother's lottery game,” he said.
The bill also seeks to thwart three more money-making ventures for the lottery: A Play at the Pump program that allows lottery ticket purchases at gas pumps, video lottery terminals, and any lottery purchases on a mobile platform.
Tribal gaming unaffected
Although New Mexico hasn't passed legislation authorizing sports betting, the Pueblo of Santa Ana tribe opened a sportsbook at its Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel in October.
The tribe decided it was already within its purview to offer sports betting because there is no state law that prohibits it and the tribal compact authorizes all Class III games. Tribes in New Mexico have exclusive rights to the category of gaming under which sports betting falls.
McQueen noted that the new bill would not interfere with the tribal casino offering sports betting, nor is it meant to preserve tribal exclusivity to offer sports wagers in the state.
“That's not the purpose of the bill, just the effect,” McQueen said.
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