Santa Ana Casino near Albuquerque to Launch Sportsbook

Santa Ana Casino Sportsbook - Albuquerque Sports Betting

The Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals are the nearest NFL teams to Santa Ana Casino, while the Broncos are most popular team in New Mexico.

New Mexico will become the 6th US state to have legal single-event sports betting next week. Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel signed a deal with USBookmaking, a Nevada company, to support a land-based sportsbook at its Santa Ana Pueblo casino.

The deal is shocking news for the American sports betting community, because New Mexico was not on the short list of U.S. states with pending sports betting legislation. Instead, the Pueblo of Santa Ana reservation Indians announced they would open a sportsbook under provisions of the existing gaming compact between the state and tribe.

While the gaming compact does not specifically mention sports betting as a legal form of gambling, it does give New Mexico tribes the right to offer Class III gaming. Sports betting is defined under the terms of the 1988 Indian Gaming Act as Class III gaming.

The Santa Ana Casino, under terms of a compact which continues through 2037, plans to open a sportsbook on Tuesday, October 16.

Vic Salerno on Nevada-Sytle Sportsbook

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

The tribe and its bookmaker bet provider does not plan to launch mobile wagering, so bettors will need to visit the sportsbook in person to place a wager on sporting events.

Sportsbook operators in most other states have launched (or plan to launch) a live in-play sports betting app for Android and IOS. While states cannot legalize interstate sports betting, they can allow intrastate (single-state) desktop and mobile sports betting.

USBookmaking Partnership

Santa Ana Casino and USBookmaking might think they can avoid using a mobile betting app, because the casino’s proximity to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Western states like New Mexico have wide expanses, in-house sports betting might not draw in many sports betting.

Santa Ana Casino is only 25 miles from Albuquerque and 46 miles from Santa Fe, the largest and third-largest population centers in the state. Albuquerque has a population of 890,000 in its metropolitan area, while Santa Fe has a population of 145,000 in its metropolitan area, so the two cities combined have a population of over 1 million.

Will New Mexico Challenge Tribal Sportsbook?

The question of whether the state of New Mexico will challenge the Santa Ana Star Casino’s right to host sports betting is another matter. Relations between New Mexico’s tribal gaming authorities and the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez have been contentious the past few years.

One tribe worked without a gaming compact for several years, while the two sides fought a battle in the federal court system over whether New Mexico could impose a higher tax rate without making concessions in the gaming compact. Another tribe was accused of operating illegal slots, due to the fact they leased a few slot machines from commercial slots distributors, instead of buying them outright.

Over the past two years, the U.S. Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions and the U.S. Department of the Interior under Ryan Zinke consistently have supported state governors and commercial casino operators in their disputes with tribal casino operators. Thus, a tribe making an unconventional choice on sports betting could draw a legal challenge from state or federal authorities.

Susana Martinez Leaving Office

One key factor is Susana Martinez will not be governor of New Mexico after early January. Martinez has served two terms as governor and cannot stand for a third term, so the 2018 governors race is between U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Las Cruces) and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Los Alamos).

The aggregate of all polls taken from May 20 to September 24 have Michelle Lujan Grisham leading 47.7% to 42.4%, though that includes only 7 polls and none of the national polling services have sampled the New Mexico electorate. Instead, the pollsters are the Tarrance Group, Emerson College, GQR Research, Global Strategy Group, Research & Polling Inc., and NSON Opinion Strategy.┬áRealClearPolitics, Cook Political Report, Daily Kos, and Fox News all have the race as “Lean Democrat”, while Political has it labeled “Likely Democrat”.

In short, the Democrat appears to have the edge in replacing a Republican governor, which might change the state government’s stance on tribal gaming. In either case, a new governor will take office in three months, so the Santa Ana Casino might have chosen this late stage to launch a sportsbook, in the hopes the Martinez adminstration cannot or will not respond to the challenge.

About Santa Ana Casino & Resort

The Santa Ana Star Casino was opened in 1993 by the Pueblo of Santa Ana Tribe, making it the first tribal casino in the state of New Mexico. The gaming floor at Santa Ana Casino has over 1,000 slot machines, making it one of the largest tribal casinos in the state.

Local sports bettors likely will bet inordinately on the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Cardinals, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, and Las Vegas Golden Knights. Those are the pro teams nearest to New Mexico. One poll found the Denver Broncos the most popular NFL team in New Mexico, with just under 30% of those polled picking the nearby Broncos.