Gambling Review

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A Guide to Gambling / Gaming Activities in New Mexico

This guide was first developed by the NM Alcohol and Gaming Division as “A Guide to Conducting Fundraising Activities in New Mexico”.  This updated version is prepared by the NM Gaming Control Board.  Revised August, 2009.


Unless specifically permitted by law, gambling is prohibited in New Mexico pursuant to §60-2E-4 of the Gaming Control Act and the New Mexico Criminal Code, 30-19-1 thru 30-19-15 NMSA 1978. Examples of gambling specifically permitted by law include activities conducted under the a) Gaming Control Act, 60-2E-1 thru 60-2E-62 NMSA 1978, 15.1.1 thru 15.1.26 NMAC, b) the Horse Racing Act, 60-1A-1 thru 60-1A-30 NMSA 1978, 15.2.1 thru 15.2.7 NMAC, c) the State Lottery Act, 6-24-1 thru 6-24-34 NMSA 1978, and d) the Bingo and Raffle Act, 60-2F-1 thru 60-2F-26 NMSA, 15.4.1 thru 15.4.9 NMAC. Properly qualified organizations may conduct certain games of chance in New Mexico for fundraising purposes on a limited basis. Following describes qualifying factors, organizational responsibilities, and the limitations on gaming imposed by New Mexico law.

Important Definitions

  • Bingo – is a game of chance in which prizes are awarded on the basis of designated numbers or symbols on a card conforming to numbers or symbols selected at random.
  • Game – under the Gaming Control Act is an activity where you pay to play a game or on a slot machine, the outcome of which is based on chance and possibly some skill, to receive a prize or something of value.
  • Lottery – is a game of chance in which, for consideration, the player has an opportunity to win a prize, the award of which is determined by chance, even if some skill is required.
  • Pull Tabs – printed tickets that have a pull-tab or seal to be opened by the purchaser where a winning combination is printed on each ticket or on a separate card.
  • Raffle – is a game of chance conducted by drawing for prizes by chance or by selling tickets or rights to participate in such a drawing.
  • Sweepstakes – used to promote legitimate business objectives. Entry obtained with purchase but must also provide a no purchase necessary alternative method of entry.

Organizations that May Obtain a License to Conduct Regularly Scheduled Games of Chance

The Bingo and Raffle Act identifies certain “qualified” or “charitable” organizations that may obtain licensure from the NM Gaming Control Board to conduct regularly scheduled bingo games and/or to sell pull tabs and raffle tickets in the state.  Monies raised by these means shall go to a “lawful purpose”. In the 2009 legislative session the old act was repealed, redone and renumbered, it is now 60-2F-1 thru 60-2F-26 NMSA.

§60-2F-4(P) “lawful purposes” means:

  1. educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited purposes that benefit an indefinite number of persons either by bringing their minds or hearts under the influence of education or religion, by relieving their bodies from disease, suffering or constraint, by assisting them in establishing themselves in life, by erecting or maintaining public buildings or works, by providing legal assistance to peace officers or firefighters in defending civil or criminal actions arising out of the performance of their duties or by otherwise lessening the burden of government. “Lawful purposes” includes the erection, acquisition, improvement, maintenance, insurance or repair of property, real, personal or mixed, if the property is used for one or more of the benefits stated in this paragraph; or
  2. augmenting the revenue of and promoting the New Mexico state fair;

§60-2F-4(F) NMSA “charitable organization” means an organization, not for pecuniary profit, that is operated for the relief of poverty, distress or other condition of public concern in New Mexico and that has been granted an exemption from federal income tax as an organization described in Section 501(c) of the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended or renumbered;

§60-2F-4(Y)NMSA “qualified organization” means a bona fide chartered branch, lodge or chapter of a national or state organization or any bona fide religious, charitable, environmental, fraternal, educational or veterans’ organization operating without profit to its members that has been in existence in New Mexico continuously for a period of two years immediately prior to conducting a raffle or making an application for a license under the New Mexico Bingo and Raffle Act and that has had a membership engaged in carrying out the objects of the corporation or organization. A voluntary firefighter’s organization is a qualified organization and a labor organization is a qualified organization for the purposes of the New Mexico Bingo and Raffle Act if they use the proceeds from a game of chance solely for scholarship or charitable purposes.

The following are defined in §60-2F-4 NMSA;

(G)  chartered branch, lodge or a chapter of a national or state organization
(AA)  religious organization;
(J)  environmental organization;
(L)  fraternal organization;
(I)  educational organization;
(BB)  veteran’s organization.

Except for charitable organizations, the Act does not require that the organization seeking licensure have obtained an exemption from federal income tax under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. Therefore, in determining whether any other applicant is a qualified organization, the NMGCB may accept other satisfactory proof of non-profit status, such as a copy of the organization’s Articles of Incorporation filed with the Public Regulation Commission under the state’s Nonprofit Corporation Act, chapter 53, Article 8, NMSA 1978.

Effective July 1, 2009, 60-2F-26(B) “Notwithstanding the provisions of Subsection A of this section, no raffle with an individual prize exceeding seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) shall be held without a ten-day prior notification to the board of the conduct of the event and a subsequent notification to the board of the names, addresses and phone numbers of all prize winners.”

60-2F-18(B) “For a raffle:

  1. all raffle tickets shall be represented in the container from which the winner is drawn;
  2. the drawing shall be open to the public;
  3. each raffle ticket shall display all information as directed by the board; and
  4. when any merchandise prize is awarded in a raffle, its value shall be its current retail price. No merchandise prize shall be redeemable or convertible into cash.”

Pull tabs can be sold by qualified organization pursuant to the rules set out in NMAC.

Organizations that May Conduct Certain Games of Chance Under Limited Circumstances Without Obtaining a License

  1. Limited exemptions under the Bingo and Raffle Act.

Any bingo or raffle held by a qualified organization as defined in §60-2F-4(Y) NMSA1978, of the Bingo and Raffle Act which holds a bingo or raffle no more than once in any three consecutive calendar months and not exceeding four occasions in one calendar year.  §60-2F-26(B) NMSA 1978.

  1. Limited exceptions under the Criminal Code.

“Nothing in Chapter 30, Article 19 NMSA 1978 shall be held to prohibit any bona fide motion picture theater from offering prizes of cash or merchandise for advertising purposes, in connection with such business or for the purpose of stimulating business, whether or not any consideration other than a monetary consideration in excess of the regular price of admission is exacted for participation in drawings for prizes.  §30-19-6(A) NMSA 1978.”

“Nothing in Chapter 30, Article 19 NMSA 1978 shall be construed to apply to any activity: (1) regulated by the New Mexico Bingo and Raffle Act; or (2) specifically exempted from regulation by the provisions of the New Mexico Bingo and Raffle Act.”  §30-19-6(B) NMSA 1978.

“Nothing in this chapter or in the New Mexico Bingo and Raffle Act prohibits a senior citizen group from organizing and conducting bingo at a senior citizen center, provided that no person other than players participating in the bingo game receive or become entitled to receive any part of the proceeds, either directly or indirectly, from the bingo game and no minor is allowed to participate in the organization or conduct of games or play bingo. As used in this section, “senior citizen group” means an organization in which the majority of the membership consists of persons who are at least fifty-five years of age and the primary activities and purposes of which are to provide recreational or social activities for those persons.  §30-19-7.2 NMSA 1978.

Horse Racing / Tracks

Horse Racing is regulated by, §60-1A-1 thru §60-1A-30 NMSA 1978, of the New Mexico Statutes.  Horse racing requires a State license and betting/wagering at a licensed track on live racing is legal.  §60-1A-15 NMSA 1978, was amended to permit Pari-mutuel betting/wagering, however, this section also states that pari-mutuel wagering can be done “only on the licensed premises where a live horse race is conducted or where a simulcast horse race is televised or projected on the racing grounds of the licensed premises of a racetrack licensee.” Slot machines can legally be operated at a Licensed Track. The license for this is separate and issued under the Gaming Control Act.

Slot Machines and Casino Style Gaming

Casino style gaming is permitted in this State by Tribal/State Compact with the tribes and pueblos of New Mexico.

Slot Machines are permitted by license only in the tribal casinos, licensed racetracks and in certain licensed non-profit organizations.

Non-Profit organizations who can qualify for a gaming operator’s license pursuant to the Gaming Control Act §60-2E-3(GG):

  1. a bona fide chartered or incorporated branch, lodge, order or association, in existence in New Mexico prior to January 1, 1997, of a fraternal organization that is described in Section 501(c)(8) or (10) of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and that is exempt from federal income taxation pursuant to Section 501(a) of that code; or
  2. a bona fide chartered or incorporated post, auxiliary unit or society of, or a trust or foundation for the post or auxiliary unit, in existence in New Mexico prior to January 1, 1997, of a veterans’ organization that is described in Section 501(c)(19) or (23) of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and that is exempt from federal income taxation pursuant to Section 501(a) of that code.

Home Ownership of Slot Machines

Having a Slot Machine in your home has only very recently become available. This came about as a result of the Court of Appeals decision in State of N.M., ex rel. NM Gaming Control Bd. v. Ten Gaming Devices 138 N.M. 426, 120 P.3d 848.  The court’s decision is very limited. To legally obtain a slot machine in New Mexico, it MUST be purchased from a distributor or manufacturer licensed to distribute or manufacture machines in this state by the State of New Mexico. 

ONLY New Mexico licensed manufacturers and distributors, licensed in New Mexico may transport gaming machines in New Mexico. You may not purchase a slot machine in another state and bring it into this state without first complying with New Mexico law and federal law, the Johnson Act, 15 USC 1171. Any slot machine purchased and transported into New Mexico without first complying with State and Federal law, is subject under the law to forfeiture and destruction. The homeowner may not make a profit from having the machine.

Persons who play on the machine can play for winnings only. The homeowner may not offer the slot machine for resale, to sell a gaming machine in New Mexico, you must be licensed to do so. A homeowner may not transport the slot machine from one location to another, only a licensed manufacturer or distributor may do so and must comply with the state and federal law to do so. A homeowner charging a fee to play or keeping a portion of monies (tokens exchangeable for cash) put into the slot machine for ANY reason, would be commercial gambling, §30-19-3 NMSA, a fourth-degree felony.

Internet Gambling / Wagering

Internet gambling is expressly prohibited by Federal law. This falls under 31 U.S.C.A. §5361, Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The State of New Mexico, and the New Mexico Gaming Control Board do not regulate, license, control or in ANY way sanction, endorse or approve any Internet or on-line gambling, betting activity, wagering or any aspect thereof. Any statement, reference or opinion to the contrary is wrong. Such activity is strictly prohibited and not authorized, approved or sanctioned in any manner by New Mexico regulatory authorities.


This document is NOT a comprehensive statement of all the laws applicable to fundraising or gambling in New Mexico. This is NOT intended to provide any legal advice to any person or organization. The NM Gaming Control Board strongly urges any person or organization to consult an attorney regarding the possible consequences, effects, criminal and otherwise, of conducting various games of chance. Additionally, organizations conducting fundraising activities have specific tax reporting obligations. More detailed information about these obligations can be obtained from the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, Tax information and Policy Office, at 827-0700, and the Internal Revenue Service, at 1-800-829-1040. Organizations conducting fundraising activities may have certain registration and reporting obligations. Contact the Public Regulation Commission, Corporations Bureau at 827-4500, and the (57-22-5 NMSA) Attorney General’s Office, Registry of Charitable Organizations, at 827-6000, for more information.