New Mexico has a stormy gambling past. When the IGRA was signed by the House in 1989, it looked like New Mexico would be one of the states to get on the American Indian casino craze. Politics guaranteed that wouldn’t be the situation.
The New Mexico governor Bruce King appointed a task force in 1990 to draft an accord with New Mexico American Indian tribes. When the working group came to an accord with two big local bands a year later, the Governor refused to sign the agreement. He would hold up a deal until 1994.
When a new governor took office in Nineteen Ninety Five, it appeared that American Indian betting in New Mexico was a certainty. But when Governor Gary Johnson passed the contract with the American Indian tribes, anti-wagering forces were able to hold the deal up in the courts. A New Mexico court ruled that Governor Johnson had out stepped his bounds in signing a deal, therefore costing the state of New Mexico hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees over the next several years.
It took the CNA, signed by the New Mexico legislature, to get the ball rolling on a full contract between the Government of New Mexico and its Amerindian bands. A decade had been squandered for gambling in New Mexico, including Indian casino Bingo.
The non-profit Bingo industry has grown since 1999. That year, New Mexico charity game providers acquired just $3,048 in revenues. This number grew to $725,150 in 2000, and passed one million dollars in revenues in 2001. Nonprofit Bingo earnings have increased steadily since then. 2005 saw the biggest year, with $1,233,289 grossed by the operators.
Bingo is certainly popular in New Mexico. All kinds of providers look for a piece of the action. Hopefully, the politicos are done batting around gambling as a key factor like they did in the 90’s. That is probably hopeful thinking.