New Mexico tribes cope with an overheated gambling market
New Mexico is known for its panoramic landscape of desert, forests and mountains stretching from horizon to horizon under an oceanic sky.
When it comes to scenic wonder, the license plates are correct: New Mexico is, indeed, a Land of Enchantment.
But at least a few casino managers for the state’s American Indian tribes must view New Mexico more as a difficult and unforgiving place to do business.
Fifteen Native American tribes and pueblos operate 21 casinos, a bingo machine parlor and four travel plazas equipped with slot devices that in 2015 generated $830 million in gross gambling revenue, according to state officials.
Unfortunately for the indigenous communities dependent on casino revenue to fund services for their citizens, the gambling enterprises are competing in a state with less than 2.1 million residents.
Stiff Competition Indian casinos are not only embroiled in a hotly competitive marketing war against each other, but they are confronted with five state-licensed racinos, each with up to 600 slot machines.
A license for a sixth New Mexico racino is out for bids.
Then there’s the lottery. Sales last year reached $46 million. Locals Market New Mexico does have a robust tourism industry along heavily trafficked Interstates 25 and 40.
But most of the approximately 33 million yearly visitors are not drawn to the casinos. They come for outdoor recreation, indigenous culture and the aforementioned scenery.
Stiff Competition “Is the New Mexico gaming market saturated?
“New Mexico in terms of Indian gaming is probably one of the most competitive gaming markets in the country.
Being able to compete with each other in this market is very difficult. It is a major challenge.”
“The opportunity for growth in New Mexico is limited,” agrees Skip Sayre, chief of sales and marketing for LDC, which owns two Albuquerque casinos and a travel plaza.
LDC in August announced it is purchasing the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
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