New Mex­ico tribes see slot rev­enue growth

Slots brought in more than $756M in fis­cal year 2018

The Taos News - - BUSINESS - By Thom Cole tcole@sfnewmex­i­can.com This story first pub­lished in the Santa Fe New Mex­i­can, a sib­ling pub­li­ca­tion of The Taos News.

Nearly all of New Mex­ico’s Amer­i­can In­dian gam­ing tribes re­ported year-over-year growth in slot ma­chine win­nings from their casi­nos, with some North­ern pue­b­los among those post­ing the big­gest gains.

Taos Pue­blo re­ported rak­ing in $7.7 mil­lion from slot play­ers dur­ing the state fis­cal year that ended June 30, a 7 per­cent in­crease from the pre­vi­ous fis­cal year.

Te­suque Pue­blo re­ported $21.1 mil­lion in slot rev­enues, up 6 per­cent, and Ohkay Owingeh re­ported $17.2 mil­lion, up 5 per­cent.

A new Te­suque casino next to the Santa Fe Opera is sched­uled to open this year.

The state Gam­ing Con­trol Board re­cently re­leased the slot rev­enues for New Mex­ico’s 14 gam­ing tribes for the 2018 fis­cal year.

The net slot ma­chine win for all gam­ing tribes for the 2018 fis­cal year to­taled more than

$756 mil­lion, the board re­ported. Net win is the amount the tribes took in from slots af­ter pay­ing prizes and reg­u­la­tory fees.

The growth in the tribes’ slot win­nings means more money for them to spend on ed­u­ca­tion, health and other ini­tia­tives. It also means more money for state gov­ern­ment, which re­ceives a share of the tribes’ slot rev­enues in ex­change for lim­it­ing off-reser­va­tion gam­bling.

The state re­ceived a cut of more than $66.2 mil­lion from the tribes’ slot win­nings in the

2018 fis­cal year. That money goes into the gov­ern­ment’s gen­eral fund for fi­nanc­ing of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and other pro­grams.

Jon Clark, an econ­o­mist with the Leg­isla­tive Fi­nance Com­mit­tee, said the com­mit­tee staff’s best ex­pla­na­tion for the growth in tribes’ slot win­nings was New Mex­ico’s im­proved econ­omy.

“Peo­ple have a lit­tle bit more money in their pocket,” Clark said.

The New Mex­ico Lot­tery also re­ported an in­crease in ticket sales in the 2018 fis­cal year, and to­tal slot ma­chine rev­enues at the state’s five horse-racing tracks were up for the pe­riod.

The Mescalero Apache Tribe in South­east­ern New Mex­ico was the tribe re­port­ing the big­gest gain in slot rev­enues in the 2018 fis­cal year. It posted a nearly 8 per­cent in­crease to $70.3 mil­lion.

“That’s sur­pris­ingly strong growth,” Clark said.

The oil boom in the south­east part of the state could be an ex­pla­na­tion, he said.

The state has seen strong growth in gross re­ceipts taxes in Eddy and Lea coun­ties, Clark said, adding, “It’s also fil­ter­ing into some neigh­bor­ing ar­eas.”

Eight tribes re­ported jumps in slot win­nings rang­ing from 1 per­cent to 3 per­cent in the 2018 fis­cal year.

The Ji­car­illa Apache Na­tion, with casi­nos in Dulce and near Cuba, was the only tribe to re­port a de­cline in slot rev­enues. Its win­nings fell more than 2 per­cent, to $4 mil­lion.

Year-over-year num­bers weren’t avail­able for Po­joaque Pue­blo be­cause of its dis­pute with the state over a new gam­ing agree­ment. That dis­pute ended last year with the pue­blo sign­ing a new deal with the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Gov. Su­sana Martinez.

San­dia Pue­blo takes in far more money from its gam­ing op­er­a­tions than any other tribe in New Mex­ico. Its slot rev­enues were $166.7 mil­lion in the 2018 fis­cal year. The Ji­car­illa Apache Na­tion rakes in the least money of the gam­ing tribes.

Clark said the Leg­isla­tive Fi­nance Com­mit­tee fore­casts con­tin­ued growth in tribal slot rev­enues in the 2019 fis­cal year.

The growth in the tribes’ slot win­nings means more money for them to spend on ed­u­ca­tion, health and other ini­tia­tives. It also means more money for state gov­ern­ment.

Clyde Mueller/New Mex­i­can file photo

The net slot ma­chine win for all gam­ing tribes for the 2018 fis­cal year to­taled more than $756 mil­lion, the board re­ported. Net win is the amount the tribes took in from slots af­ter pay­ing prizes and reg­u­la­tory fees.

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