New Mexico has a rocky gambling 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 Indian casino craze. Politics guaranteed that wouldn’t be the case.
The New Mexico governor Bruce King appointed a panel in Nineteen Ninety to negotiate a compact with New Mexico American Indian bands. When the working group arrived at an agreement with two big local bands a year later, the Governor declined to sign the agreement. He would hold up a deal until Nineteen Ninety Four.
When a new governor took over in 1995, it seemed that Indian gambling in New Mexico was now a certainty. But when Governor Gary Johnson signed the contract with the Native bands, anti-gaming groups were able to hold the deal up in the courts. A New Mexico court found that the Governor had overstepped his bounds in signing a deal, thereby costing the state of New Mexico many hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing revenues over the next several years.
It required the Compact Negotiation Act, passed by the New Mexico legislature, to get the process moving on a full accord between the State of New Mexico and its Native tribes. 10 years had been lost for gambling in New Mexico, which includes Indian casino Bingo.
The not for profit Bingo industry has increased from 1999. In that year, New Mexico not for profit game operators acquired only $3,048. That climbed to $725,150 in 2000, and surpassed one million dollars in revenues in 2001. Non-profit Bingo revenues have grown constantly since then. 2005 saw the biggest year, with $1,233,289 grossed by the providers.
Bingo is certainly popular in New Mexico. All sorts of operators look for a slice of the pie. Hopefully, the politicos are done batting around gaming as a hot button issue like they did back in the 90’s. That is without doubt hopeful thinking.