The truth about New Mexico’s bigger and/or more well-off towns such as Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos and Las Cruces is that they’re well more college-sports towns than pro-sports towns. And within that fandom, most everyday New Mexicans are typically well more into basketball than football. Wait, was that “most”? Indeed, because in the eastern bit of the state – you know, the part closest to Texas – football remains king; not coincidentally, do teams from this area tend to dominate New Mexico high school football.
Betting in New Mexico
Clichés about interweaving of cultures (very overblown by touristy types) aside, New Mexico’s history in the post-Columbian period makes it an outlier among U.S. states and has created odd pastiches in areas such as law and attitudes regarding social mores. Established by Europeans in 1610, the capitol city of Santa Fe boasts the longest continuous post-settlement history west of the Mississippi and upon this creation of Don Juan de Oñate’s boys is modern-day New Mexico still based.
Today, New Mexico has the highest percentage of native second-language speakers and of “Hispanic” folks (in quotes, as often a contentious label among New Mexicans). New Mexico is the second-most Catholic state in the country, and is home to the nation’s second-greatest proportion of Native American people. The result is a high-tolerance society with neatly-defined delineation of permissible and impermissible acts.
In terms of gambling law, well, let’s put it this way: For starters, the “Land of Enchantment” may well as be substituted out as state nickname for “Land of Native American-operated casinos.” On the reservation land outlying any town worth its turquoise will exist at least one beckoning spot which features casino games, bingo and/or poker. But what happens in New Mexico casinos stays in New Mexico casinos: Beyond the two dozen or so casino outlets and the occasional racetrack in Albuquerque or Raton, most forms of non-online betting are unavailable.
However, exceptions have typically been made in state law for football betting. Parlay-type games are available for play in New Mexico, while daily fantasy is 100% legal as well.
Football in New Mexico
Full disclosure: This writer is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and still bleeds Lobos silver and cherry red; thus am I highly cynical about much of UNM Lobos football history – and don’t even get me started on the New Mexico State Aggies…
The University of New Mexico first started playing football in 1892 and, to be brutally honest, the list of highlights through to the present day could easily fit on the back of a postage stamp with room enough to list half the menu of the Frontier Restaurant. If Lobos football can be said to have a golden age, we’d have to call it the Bill Weeks Era. Weeks coached the team from 1960 to ’67 earning three WAC championships (UNM’s only other title win, over something called the Border Intercollegiate Athletic Association, came in 1938).
In 1961, the Lobos played to an Aviation Bowl win over Western Michigan; they wouldn’t play a postseason game again until the bowl-happy 1990s. In 1964, the Lobos finished at no. 16 in the country, the only time they’ve finished a season in the top 20.
In the 1980s and 90s, brief glimmers of hope were seen in UNM football. The 1982 Lobos, under head coach Joe Morrison, went 10-1. Since the one loss came against BYU, however, UNM was denied a WAC title and a bowl bid. In the 90s, Dennis Franchione stayed for six seasons but couldn’t manage a .500 record. On the plus side, Coach Fran helped bring along the all-time ride of Lobos football, a kid from Lovington (pop. >11,000) named Brian Urlacher.
AS for the New Mexico state Aggies, well, history is even more dismal. Going into the 2018, the Aggies are listed 124th of 130 college football programs in terms of winning percentage. In 120 years of football, NMSU has run up a record of 423-624-30 for a winning percentage of *.407*. This mark is better than only UNLV< Florida Atlantic, Kent State, University of Charlotte, Florida International and Georgia State – and two of these programs only started playing top-division college football in the 2010s! In short, NMSU has a record of losing that can make even Lobos fans and their own 108th-“best” program…
Based on the longtime support for these mostly hapless teams, New Mexico has attracted many a speculator in professional football to the state. Albuquerque is typically the site selected for such enterprises, and some indoor football teams calling New Mexico home in recent years include
New Mexico Wildcats of the American Indoor Football Association, played in 2008 and ’09. The New Mexico Stars (and whoa, is a more generic name possible?) seemed to be enjoying relative success in the 2012 to ’14 seasons before abruptly announcing two months before kickoff that they wouldn’t be fielding a Champions Indoor Football League team in ’15. Not three *days* later, CIF officials announced the Duke City Gladiators.
Perhaps due to the surprise launch of the team, but the end of the 2016 season, the Gladiators were drawing crowds measured in triple figures. Predictably, the club folded following ’16. Albuquerque and New Mexico were thus completely without professional indoor football for the 2017 season and are likely to be so through ’20 at least. Here’s to thinking no one there will feel a gaping void in his/her life. Also, go Lobos!
Betting on Football in New Mexico
If full-on sports betting were to be made legal in New Mexico – particularly at online sportsbooks – it’ll have to go through the Native America-based gambling interests. Since the 1990s, all legislation regarding expansion of gambling law has depended on tacit or implicit approval from the state’s casino operators, and thus expansion of betting law sometimes progresses a tad more slowly than the etnusiasts would like.
On the other hand, once New Jersey’s legal battle for sports betting is over, the libertarian-minded New Mexico lawmakers will certainly provide for betting on football in New Mexico.