In a bid to secure additional funding for lottery scholarships and students, New Mexico lawmakers are proposing an expansion of the state’s gaming industry.
Lawmakers Looking to Expand Gaming in New Mexico
New Mexico is looking to expand its gaming industry in a bid to back the state’s scholarship program for qualifying college students.
With a new bill put forward for the upcoming 60-day legislative session, lawmakers from both political spectra are coming together to see if they can lay down the groundwork for a regulated gambling industry that will reach a little further than current regulatory statures .
According to backers, the legislation has the potential of boosting lottery scholarship money, creating new jobs, and adding to the state’s coffers. Rep. Raymundo Lara, D-Chamberino, said that the state is exploring fresh revenue opportunities and expanded gaming was one.
According to Lara, the state stands to benefit from $40 million annually, with $15 million of that money going directly to the scholarship funds. As the scholarship fund stands, it only pays for a part of the tuition of qualifying individuals, but doesn’t cover all associated costs.
Throughout 2020, there were some 24,274 scholarship recipients. Lottery scholarships used to cover full tuition fees, but raising costs of education has put authorities at a crossroad, which is to either to provide more people with partial support or fewer students with partial support.
One of the reason why funds have not been enough is the sort of outdated model gaming has in New Mexico and moribund lottery ticket sales overall.
What Could Change for New Mexico’s Gaming?
Should the legislation pass, New Mexico will be able to allow numerous new products, including live table games, blackjack and poker across the state’s five racetrack casinos located in Albuquerque, Ruidoso, Hobbs, Farmington, and Sunland Park.
New Hampshire lawmakers have made some adjustments to the upcoming proposal, offering the lottery to step in at each of the five locations and run operations itself instead of creating a more liberal market resembling that of Las Vegas’ way of doing business.
Furthermore, the legislation would not impact the state’s tribal compacts, which are important to the tribes in New Mexico. As an added benefit, lawmakers are also offering to expand sports betting in person at the casinos, but not allow in-state collegiate sports wagering. Insofar as tribes go, there have been a few contentious proposals but none has passed.
While there has been some pushback from parties fearing that expanding gaming would lead to higher incidence of gambling addiction, education officials seem to be on board with the idea, looking into the possibility to see more money float into scholarship programs and make colleges in the state more affordable.
According to Rep. Phelps Anderson, the legislation is what New Mexico needs to bolsters its higher education and offer residents an opportunity to find well-paying jobs within the state.