New Mexico Indian Casinos: Largest to Smallest - July 16, 2011

"There are 14 Native American tribes operating 20 casinos in New Mexico and just like Las Vegas, there are the mega casinos and the little ones..."

Every quarter, the gaming tribes send to the New Mexico Gaming Control Board their “Net Win” figures and a payment under the terms of the compacts each of the tribes signed with the State of New Mexico. “Net Win”, according to the language in the legal compacts, “is the amount wagered on gaming machines, less the amount paid out in cash and non-cash prizes won on the gaming machines, less State and Tribal Regulator Fees. “ The Gaming Control Board goes on to say that “‘Net Win’ is not the net profit of the casino”.

There are different percentages for casinos based on their size with the maximum at 9.75% and it is based only on the revenue from Class III gaming devices, basically slot machines and other electronic gaming devices. The State of New Mexico does not collect a percentage from other gaming including table games, bingo or simulcasting. Slots, however, make up an estimated 90% of a casino’s gaming revenue.

Because the gaming tribes must pay a percentage of their net win to the State of New Mexico, they must report their numbers, and based on that we are able to determine how each tribe is doing. The latest numbers reported by the State of New Mexico Gaming Control Board shows that for the first quarter of 2011 (Jan. 1 – March 31), the State of New Mexico’s general fund received $16,374,927.

There are 14 Native American tribes operating 20 casinos in New Mexico and just like Las Vegas, there are the mega casinos and the little ones, relatively speaking. It’s no surprise that the Pueblo of Sandia, with perhaps the best location in the biggest metropolitan area of the state, generated the most revenue and far outdistances all competitors.

The four largest gaming operations are all operated by tribes closest to Albuquerque. Following Sandia in terms of “Net Win” is the Pueblo of Laguna with its Route 66 and Dancing Eagle Casinos strategically located on I-40 west of the Duke City. The Pueblo of Isleta, which owns the Hard Rock Casino and the Palace West Casino south of Albuquerque, was next followed by Santa Ana Pueblo located in Bernalillo.

The Inn of the Mountain Gods and the separate Casino Apache Travel Center have little tribal gaming competition in the Ruidoso area and that puts the Mescalero Apaches in the number 5 spot. Pojoaque, with the Buffalo Thunder, Cities of Gold and the Sports Bar casinos is number six. The Navajo Nation, who got into the gaming business late, is doing very well and is in 7th place.

Tesuque (Camel Rock), Acoma (Sky City Casino), Santa Clara (The Santa Claran/Big Rock), San Felipe (Casino Hollywood), and Okay Owengo (Ohkay Casino) make up the next group. The two smallest casinos are operated by Taos Pueblo (Taos Mountain Casino) and the Jicarilla Apache Tribe (Best Western Jicarilla Inn & Casino / Apache Nugget Casino).

The exact numbers for the first quarter of 2011, in order, are as follows:

  1. Pueblo of Sandia $ 43,627,087

  2. Pueblo of Laguna $ 24,065,778

  3. Pueblo of Isleta $ 23,236,031

  4. Pueblo of Santa Ana $ 18,122,108

  5. Mescalero Apache Tribe $ 15,909,922

  6. Pueblo of Pojoaque $ 13,373,801

  7. Navajo Nation $ 12,502,346

  8. Pueblo of Tesuque $ 5,524,718

  9. Pueblo of Acoma $ 5,186,580

  10. Pueblo of Santa Clara $ 5,025,471

  11. Pueblo of San Felipe $ 4,864,270

  12. Ohkay Owingeh $ 3,854,956

  13. Pueblo of Taos $ 2,009,037

  14. Jicarilla Apache Tribe $ 1,308,234


Total Net Win $ 178,610,339

Total to State (9.16%) $ 16,374,927