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New Mexico AG ‘will closely monitor’ launch of sports betting at Santa Ana Star Casino




A day after the company announced it would launch a sports book at the Santa Ana Star casino near Albuquerque next week, the state’s attorney general’s office said Tuesday it wouldn’t throw up a road block. The casino is owned by the Tamaya Nation at the Pueblo of Santa Ana.

It looks like Las Vegas-based USBookmaking will make New Mexico the next state with legal sports betting.

A day after the company announced it would launch a sports book at the Santa Ana Star casino near Albuquerque next week, the state’s attorney general’s office said Tuesday it wouldn’t throw up a road block. The casino is owned by the Tamaya Nation at the Pueblo of Santa Ana.

In a statement to Gambling Compliance.com, David Carl, press secretary to Attorney General Hector Balderas, said, “Sports betting at the Santa Ana Star Casino is governed by the Pueblo of Santa Ana Gaming Regulatory Commission. As such, we will closely monitor New Mexico’s tribal gaming compacts and work with the legislature for proper statutory and regulatory oversight to require responsible gaming and enhanced integrity to create an even playing field for all.”

Vic Salerno, the president of USBookmaking, said in an interview Monday the compact with the state allows for sports betting. Also, he said legal opinions have said tribes can operate sport gaming as because tribal land is considered “a sovereign nation.”

“It says sports betting right in the compact. We asked four different independent attorneys and they all agreed with me,” Salerno said. “We think this is a tremendous opportunity.”

New Mexico would become the sixth state with legal sports betting and the fifth to launch the activity since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May that allowed states to regulate sports betting. New Mexico joins Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia.

New Mexico has 15 Indian casinos which produced $861.6 million in gaming revenue in 2016, according to the recently-released Indian Gaming Industry Report from Casino City.

In a statement, USBookmaking said the Santa Ana Star, which is located 10 miles north of Albuquerque – New Mexico’s largest city – is one of the top three New Mexico casinos in terms of annual revenue.

Salerno compared the property’s size and scope to Green Valley Ranch, one of the Las Vegas Valley’s larger locals casinos, which is owned by Station Casinos.

“We have a spot in the center of the casino,” Salerno said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Salerno said other tribes in New Mexico are expected to add sports betting after Santa Ana Star launches.

“We have found that there is tremendous demand for a Nevada-style retail sports book operation in a multitude of casinos throughout the U.S.,” Salerno said. “We specialize in the ability to get to market quickly and operate efficiently. We have carved out a unique position where we are a very attractive service provider to the many independent casino operations that exist today.”

Salerno said he has been seeking opportunities to operate sports betting in U.S. markets.

Under the Leroy’s brand, Salerno and his team operated 125 sports books in Nevada. The company was sold to William Hill US in 2012. Salerno was a 2015 inductee into the Gaming Hall of Fame.

Chris Sieroty of GamblingCompliance.com contributed.

Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at hstutz@cdcgamingreports.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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