Analysis

ANALYSIS: Gaming Recovery Act would boost New Mexico rating

A new proposal to add online gaming and sports-betting options for New Mexico’s six racinos in order to help them recover from the recent Covid-19 pandemic crisis would substantially boost the state’s ranking on the Wedge Index.

New Mexico currently stands tied at 29 in the Wedge Index of gaming accessibility with the state’s gaming options being limited to the 24 tribal land-based casinos and six racinos.

However, should the state legislature pass the new Gaming Industry Recovery Act (GIRA), the options for consumers would expand enough to push New Mexico much further up the rankings.

If the racinos were allowed sports-betting, online casino and the setting up of books at the tracks, that would boost their Wedge Index number to 39 and would place them equal with Nevada at eight in the list

The index is calculated according to which types of gaming are available in the state and ease of access to each. As it stands, New Mexico only gets credit for having land-based gaming operations available which accounts for its relatively lowly position on the index.

According to the Wedge Index criteria, if the state were to add remote gaming registration to its regulated gaming options, it would provide consumers in the state with much boosted consumer access. Should this be allowed under the new legislation it would move New Mexico up to fourth, just below Colorado and above Indiana.

Were two skins to be allowed for each racino, that would boost the state to first place. The draft act is slated to be debated by a legislative committee next month.

Offerings on the tables
As it stands, there are six racinos operating in New Mexico including the Downs at Albuquerque, Sun Ray Park, Zia Park Casino (owned by Penn National) and Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino near El Paso. As it stands they are limited to offering slot machines. The new legislation would also enable them to offer table games.

Meanwhile, 14 tribes operate gaming properties in New Mexico under the terms of a compact which comes to an end in 2037. Tribes pay a revenue share to the state in return for being able to operate.

Neither the casinos nor racinos are yet to reopen following the pandemic shutdown.

Scott Scanland, a lobbyist for Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, was quoted in local media as saying that the GIRA would help New Mexico “rebuild this economy.”

The Governor of New Mexico Lujan Grisham remained neutral on the initiative.

“The Governor’s Office will, as always, thoroughly review legislation as it makes its way through the legislative process,” a spokeswoman was quoted as saying. “The governor has a very deep respect for the tribal gaming compacts and their importance to the sovereign nations within our state.”

Post-PASPA Sports-betting has already debuted in New Mexico but operations are not substantial and are limited to land-based tribal casinos. In October 2018 US Bookmaking commenced sports-betting operations at the Santa Ana Pueblo’s Star Casino & Hotel. Other properties have followed suit including South Point Hotel and Casino and the Pueblo Isleta.

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Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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