New Mexico has a bitter gaming background. When the IGRA was signed by Congress in 1989, it looked like New Mexico might be one of the states to get on the Indian casino bandwagon. Politics guaranteed that would not be the case.
The New Mexico governor Bruce King announced a panel in 1990 to create a contract with New Mexico Indian bands. When the panel came to an accord with 2 big local tribes a year later, Governor King declined to sign the bargain. He held up a deal until 1994.
When a new governor took over in 1995, it seemed that American Indian betting in New Mexico was a certainty. But when Governor Gary Johnson signed the accord with the Native tribes, anti-wagering groups were able to hold the contract up in the courts. A New Mexico court ruled that Governor Johnson had overstepped his bounds in signing the deal, thereby denying the government of New Mexico hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing revenues over the next several years.
It took the Compact Negotiation Act, signed by the New Mexico legislature, to get the ball rolling on a full compact between the State of New Mexico and its American Indian tribes. A decade had been squandered for gaming in New Mexico, including Native casino Bingo.
The not for profit Bingo business has grown from 1999. That year, New Mexico not for profit game owners acquired just $3,048 in revenues. This number grew to $725,150 in 2000, and surpassed a million dollars in revenues in 2001. Non-profit Bingo revenues have grown constantly since that time. Two Thousand and Five witnessed the biggest year, with $1,233,289 grossed by the operators.
Bingo is categorically favored in New Mexico. All kinds of owners try for a bit of the action. With hope, the politicos are done batting over gaming as a hot button factor like they did back in the 1990’s. That is most likely hopeful thinking.