Santa Ana Star Casino Causing Debate

Publish: 07.11.2018

The legal status of sports betting in the Native American Santa Ana Star Casino in New Mexico has created a heated debate in the state. New Mexico became the six-state to legalize sports betting in the country, and the tribal casino has opened its gates to sports wagering since October 16. However, now, there are questions about the Tamaya National tribe’s exploitation of a legalization loophole that helped them launch such an offering.

The Tamaya Nation tribe oversees the operations at the Santa Ana Star Casino. Their sports betting offerings have led the State Lottery to introduce betting themes games as well. On Monday, Rep. Jason Harper, a Rio Rancho Republican, stated that the sports betting themed games and other offerings by the State Lottery are breaching the state laws. He further noted that if the New Mexico Lottery launches these games next year, it will do so illegally.

The New Mexico Lottery has a reputation for promoting gambling offerings and helping in diversifying the field, even if its moves brush with the concurrent rules. For instance, in 2015, the lottery intended to introduce a game called “Play at the Pump” which could link lotteries with gas stations. The New Mexico Legislature didn’t appreciate the move.

This time, the game proposed by the lottery will make players guess the outcome of a sporting event. They will have to guess at least three results right. The existing state regulations are not appropriate for sports betting, effectively turning them illegal. On the other hand, Native American tribes possess a Class III gaming license which allows them to offer sports betting. The contradictory laws are now haunting the state.

The subject is polarizing the legislators and officials as well. Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, Albuquerque Democrat, suggests that the Class III gambling license makes sports betting legal and the tribes are not trespassing any laws. Sports wagering will improve the positive economic impact on the region.

On the other hand, Rep. Harper suggests that he will seek the official position of the office of the Attorney General. The office had previously stated that it will subject the existing tribal compacts and the State Lottery to a more thorough inspection. Harper also intends to draft a new legislation that would make it impossible for the Lottery to escape the clutches of state lawmakers. Their decision could be binding on the institution.

The Lottery suggests that it is operating in compliance with the New Mexico Lottery Act, which projected revenue of the game reaching $30 million annually. Of these, $9 million will be provided to the State Tuition Assistance Program.