New Mexico Legal Poker Sites

New Mexico StateLive poker is popular in New Mexico, with tournaments filing up fast and a thriving cash game scene. The poker rooms are split between tribal casinos and State licensed venues, which are the more recent developments. Most of the poker action is centered around Albuquerque and the other major cities here. Social poker games are not carved out under NM laws, though free entry bar leagues and charity poker events do run here.

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This article gives you a broad based overview of all poker game formats in New Mexico. First of all you’ll find an overview of the live casino poker rooms in this State and what they have to offer. Next social poker is covered, including home, bar and charity poker activities. Online poker is the subject of the next section and after that you’ll find information straight from the New Mexico Statute books. At the end of this page there is a high-level summary and a look at possible future scenarios for poker games here.

Live Poker Games In New Mexico

There are currently 9 poker rooms to choose from in casinos in New Mexico, most of these in tribal casinos and mainly based around the major cities in this State. These are very popular venues, with some major tournament tours selling out fast to poker hungry residents. The WSOP Circuit, and Heartland poker tour both stop in casinos in NM, though you’ll find plenty of tournament and cash game action around the clock too.

With several poker friendly neighboring States including Colorado and Arizona, residents of New Mexico are never too far from a legal poker game.

Are Home Games Legal In New Mexico?

Even though this State is otherwise very poker-friendly, there is no carve-out under the law for social home games. The prevailing attitude seems to be that small stakes social games where nobody is profiting from running the games are rarely busted – though you should be aware that technically you are breaking the law here by participating in a game like this.

Bar Poker leagues run in New Mexico. The key factor which allows these games to thrive is that there is no entry fee involved. The small prizes give are usually offered by the bars, that benefit from the extra food and drinks served while the tournament is running. Charity poker events are also allowed in New Mexico, though these will need to be individually approved before taking place.

Online Poker Games In New Mexico

There is nothing in the State laws to explicitly outlaw online poker games (or online gambling in general). Curiously, this State cites the Federal UIGEA laws as making online gambling illegal. In fact this law only relates to financial transactions between banks and gambling site operators. It is not known if this is a misunderstanding, or whether the New Mexico authorities believe that enforcement of internet gambling law is a federal responsibility and not their concern!

New Mexico residents are welcomed by all of the offshore poker sites, who offer cash games and tournaments from the Caribbean. These sites are legal in their own countries, and are enjoyed by thousands of US players every day. Bear in mind that the question of whether playing at these sites from NM is legally unclear – though nobody has ever been prosecuted in this State for merely playing in an online poker game.

There is little evidence to suggest that the New Mexico government is actively looking into the regulation of online poker games. Conversely, there is a little to suggest that, once poker is seen to be working elsewhere, this State should not join in later down the line.

What Do The New Mexico Gambling Statutes Say?

New Mexico makes the ‘bet’ the key component of their definition of illegal gambling. The standard ban-all then carve-out system is in place here, and games involving skill are also covered by the wording on the Statute books. In addition to gambling itself, passing information which is related to gambling is also considered to be illegal here.

Here is the key passage relating to poker, the definition of a bet from section 30, 19, 1:

…means a bargain in which the parties agree that, dependent upon chance, even though accompanied by some skill, one stands to win or lose anything of value…

New Mexico Poker – Summing It Up

While moderately poker-friendly, the lack of provision for home-games is a glaring omission from the laws in New Mexico. Much of the poker action is driven by tribes who have negotiated deals (compacts) with the State to build lavish casinos on their land.

New Mexico do not appear to be in any hurry to regulate online poker, though there is no reason why this State could not join a later wave of regulated States once the concept has been proven elsewhere.