Tag Archives: tribes

Sports Betting at New Mexico’s Tribal Casinos

Sports Betting

January 31, 2020 – With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, New Mexico in Focus turns its attention to sports betting at Native casinos. A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision opened the door for previously banned commercial sports betting, and a number of New Mexico tribes have opened sports books at their casinos. Correspondent Antonia Gonzales examines how and why Isleta Pueblo chose to open its sports book, what business is like, and what other tribes are weighing before they act.

Guests:
Edward Calabaza, former Isleta Tribal Council member
Staci Chafins, Isleta Casino Player Development Manager

Transcript:

>>GENE GRANT: FOOTBALL FANS AND EVEN FANS OF CLEVER COMMERCIALS ARE GETTING READY TO WATCH THE SUPER BOWL THIS WEEKEND. THIS YEARS NFL CHAMPIONSHIP INVOLVES FRIENDLY WAGERS AND IN THIS YEAR’S MATCHUP BETWEEN THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AND SAN FRANCISCO 49’S WILL BE NO DIFFERENT. OTHERS HAVE LAID DOWN MORE THAN JUST A CASUAL WAGER. A 2018 U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION OPENED THE DOOR FOR TRIBES ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO ACCEPT SPORTS BETTING IN THEIR CASINOS. HERE IN NEW MEXICO, SANTA ANA, LAGUNA AND ISLETA HAVE STARTED SPORTS BOOKS. OTHER TRIBES ARE EXPLORING THE OPTION TOO. THIS WEEK NMIF CORRESPONDENT ANTONIA GONZALES LOOKS AT SPORTS GAMBLING AT ISLETA, HOW THE PUEBLO CHOSE TO OPEN ITS SPORT BOOK, WHAT BUSINESS IS LIKE AND WHAT OTHER TRIBES ARE WEIGHING BEFORE THEY ACT.   

>>ANTONIA GONZALES: JOINING ME NOW ARE EDWARD CALABAZA, FORMER ISLETA TRIBAL COUNCIL MEMBER AND STACI CHAFINS, THE ISLETA PLAYER DEVELOPMENT MANAGER AT THE CASINO. WELCOME TO NEW MEXICO PBS.   

>>EDWARD CALABAZA: THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.  

>>GONZALES: SPORTS BETTING IS FAIRLY NEW AFTER. THE 2018 SUPREME COURT OPENS IT UP FOR STATES AND TRIBES, A NUMBER OF TRIBES ACROSS THE COUNTRY INCLUDING HERE IN NEW MEXICO DECIDED TO TRY IT OUT INCLUDING ISLETA. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT, ED, HOW THAT IDEA CAME ABOUT FOR THE TRIBE?   

>>CALABAZA: WELL, THE TRIBAL COUNCIL HAD BEEN TALKING ABOUT THAT POSSIBILITY BECAUSE WE KNEW THAT THAT CASE WAS MAKING ITS WAY THROUGH THE SUPREME COURT. ONCE THEY MADE THEIR RULING, WITH OUR GENERAL COUNSEL, WE STARTED PUTTING THINGS IN MOTION. WE WANTED TO KNOW MORE INFORMATION AS TO REALLY WHAT ARE THE PERCENTAGES, WHAT IS OR WOULD BE THE WIN AND LOSS. WAS IT WORTH IT FOR US TO DO THAT? BECAUSE IT MEANT RECONSTRUCTING A PART OF THE CASINO TO BUILD A SPORTS BOOK, SO WOULD WE BE ABLE TO RECOUP THAT COST, THE INVESTMENT, YOU KNOW. ROI, WAS THAT GOING TO BE THERE? WE DID A NUMBER OF THINGS LIKE CALLING OTHER TRIBES, VISITING LAS VEGAS. WE ALSO WENT TO THE UNLV SCHOOL OF GAMBLING, TOOK A COURSE THERE. WE VISITED CASINOS THERE IN LAS VEGAS AND THEN WE STARTED FEELING OUT THE WATERS AS TO WHO WAS GOING TO SET OUR BETTING LINES AND HOW MUCH DID THEY WANT ON THEIR END FOR TAKING THAT RISK AND RESPONSIBILITY. SO, IT WASN’T SOMETHING AS FAST AS, HEY, SUPREME COURT MADE ITS DECISION, TOMORROW WE ARE GOING TO START SPORTS BETTING. YOU KNOW, THERE WAS A LOT OF RESEARCH AND WE HAD TO DO OUR HOMEWORK, SO TO SPEAK.  

>>GONZALES: YOU’RE INVOLVED AS WELL LIKE ED IS TALKING ABOUT GOING TO CLASSES AND LEARNING ABOUT SPORTS BETTING. HOW WAS THAT BENEFICIAL TO HAVING THE FRUITION OF THE SPORTS BOOK OPENING AT THE CASINO?   

>>STACI CHAFINS: THE TRAINING THAT WE WENT TOO WAS GOOD. WE HAD A GLI COME AND TRAIN US ON PROPERTY. IT HELPED OVERALL GET MORE PEOPLE IN CASINO FAMILIAR, EMPLOYEE WISE, DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS, SO THEY WOULD UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT. AND, YOU KNOW, HOW WE WERE GOING TO START AND WE STARTED IN A TEMPORARY LOCATION AND THEN WE MOVED. THEY HAD THE CONSTRUCTION DONE TO BUILD A NEW SPORTS BOOK.  

>>GONZALES: HOW HAS IT BEEN RECEIVED SO FAR BY GUESTS?   

>>CHAFINS: VERY WELL. IT HAS GROWN OUR DEMOGRAPHIC OF PEOPLE THAT COME INTO THE CASINO. IT IS A GROUP WE PROBABLY DIDN’T HAVE BEFORE AND NOW, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE MORE PEOPLE THAT ARE INTERESTED IN THE SPORTS BOOK THAT MIGHT USE OUR ENTERTAINMENT AND RESTAURANTS OR PLAY TABLES AS WELL. SO IT HAS DEFINITELY GROWN. 

>>GONZALES: HOW DO YOU SEE THAT AS PART OF, YOU KNOW, ACHIEVING A GOAL FOR THE TRIBE, YOU KNOW? THERE WAS A LOT OF — MILLIONS OF DOLLARS WENT INTO THE RENOVATION FOR THE SPORTS BOOK. WHAT WERE SOME OF THOSE IDEAS BEHIND THAT DECISION?   

>>CALABAZA: IT IS JUST ANOTHER AMENITY. IF WE ARE NOT GOING TO OFFER IT OUR GUESTS MAY GO TO ANOTHER CASINO THAT HAS IT. SANTA ANA WAS THE FIRST IN THE STATE TO DO IT. ALMOST IMMEDIATELY, I KNOW, FRIENDS WHO ARE ALSO SPORTS BETTERS, THEY WENT THERE ALMOST IMMEDIATELY, AND THEY WOULD STAY THERE IN THAT BERNALILLO AREA AND NOT VISIT THE OTHER CASINO LIKE SANDIA OR ISLETA, ROUTE 66, BECAUSE WE WEREN’T OFFERING IT AT THAT TIME. SO, SANTA ANA REALLY HAD, YOU KNOW, THE MOTHER LOAD OF PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN SPORTS BETTING. SPORTS BETTER MAY GO WITH THEIR WIVES AND THEIR WIVES MAY PLAY THE SLOTS. SPORTS BETTERS WANT TO GO TO THE SPORTS BOOK. IT IS A HAPPY MEDIUM FOR EVERYBODY. IN TERMS OF GETTING BACK THE COSTS, WE WERE EXCITED WHEN WE FINALLY MOVED FROM THAT TEMPORARY LOCATION TO THE BIG SPORTS BOOK LOCATION. NEW MEXICO IS UNIQUE IN TERMS OF ITS COMPACTS BECAUSE WE CANNOT ALLOW CLASS THREE GAMING WITH ALCOHOL TO BE INFUSED. SO, WE ARE UNIQUE IN THAT WE NEED A GOOD DIVIDER TO SEPARATE WHERE WE ARE MAKING THE TRANSACTIONS AND THE BAR THAT IS LOCATED INSIDE THE SPORTS BOOK. IF THAT MAKES SENSE. IF YOU VISITED THAT SECTION. I MEAN, A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE THE MISNOMER THAT WE’RE LIKE LAS VEGAS AND PEOPLE ARE WALKING AROUND THE CASINO WITH ALCOHOL AND THAT IS JUST NOT THE CASE. NEW MEXICO IS UNIQUE. THEY MAKE THOSE STIPULATIONS. THAT IS JUST PART OF THE COMPACTS WE HAVE WITH THE STATE?  

>>GONZALES: IT IS LIKE IF YOU GO TO ANY TRIBAL CASINO, THE BAR, THE ALCOHOL –   

>>CALABAZA: THE ALCOHOL STAYS IN THE BAR. AND HAS TO BE SEPARATED FROM THE CLASS THREE GAMING, THAT IS CORRECT.  

>>GONZALES: WHEN IT COMES TO GAMBLING, ANY KIND OF GAMBLING OR EVEN TRIBAL CASINOS, THERE IS A LOT OF OPINIONS AND THEN ADDING TO SPORTS BETTING, THERE IS ALSO A LOT OF OPINIONS ON THAT. WAS THERE ANY KIND OF PUSHBACK BECAUSE IT HAS TO DO PARTICULARLY WITH SPORTS AND BETTING ON SPORTS?   

>>CALABAZA: I THINK THE BIGGEST PUSHBACK THAT WE HEARD BECAUSE THAT WE WERE NOT GOING TO RESTRICT OUR GAMBLING FOR INSTANCE, WITH THE TWO SCHOOLS IN NEW MEXICO, UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO AND NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS. WE WERE NOT GOING TO RESTRICT BETTING ON THOSE TWO ENTITIES. SANTA ANA FROM THE GET-GO SAID WE ARE NOT TAKING BETS ON THOSE TWO SCHOOLS. SO, REALLY, THAT WAS THE INITIAL DISCUSSION. OTHER THAN THAT, I DON’T KNOW THAT WE FELT ANY KIND OF NEGATIVE RAMIFICATIONS FROM THAT. THERE IS ALWAYS A CONCERN AND THERE WAS CONCERN EVEN BACK WHEN I STARTED MAKING BETS BACK IN THE EARLY 90’S AND LATE 80’S, YOU COULDN’T GO TO LAS VEGAS AND BET ON THE UNLV REBELS. YOU COULD ONLY BET ON THE REBELS IN RENO, NEVADA OR LAKE TAHOE. VICE VERSA, UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO YOU COULDN’T MAKE BETS ON THOSE TEAMS IN RENO. YOU HAD TO GO TO LAS VEGAS OR ELSEWHERE. LAUGHLIN. TO MAKE THOSE BETS, SO, I THINK THAT HAS ALL COME FULL CIRCLE. PEOPLE ARE UNDERSTANDING THAT GAMES AREN’T BEING FIXED. AND THERE IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE THAT SUSPICION BUT I THINK WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY IN TERMS OF RECOGNIZING AND STACI CAN TALK MORE ABOUT THE WAY THAT THEY MONITOR GAMBLING ACTIVITY, YOU KNOW. THERE ARE PLAYER PROFILES THAT ARE SET UP AND IF THERE IS A CHANGE, A HUGE HICCUP, LIKE, FOR INSTANCE, I’LL BET, 20, 25 HERE AND THERE ON A GAME. IF FOR SOME REASON I GO TO THE CASINO AND MAKE A 5,000 BET, THAT IS COMPLETELY OUT OF THE ORDINARY, THAT SUSPICION STARTS TO ARISE AND THAT IS HOW YOU TRACK, MONITOR AND LOOK INTO DIFFERENT TYPES OF SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY.  

>>GONZALES: YOU WANT TO ADD ANYTHING TO THAT?   

>>CHAFINS: AT ISLETA WE DO REQUIRE A PLAYERS CLUB CARD TO MAKE A SPORTS BOOK BET. THAT ALSO HELPS US RECOGNIZE — IT IS LIKE EDWARD SAID, IF YOU’RE MAKING 20, 25 DOLLAR BETS AND JUMP UP TO 5,000, THERE IS A SUSPICION THERE. IS THAT REALLY YOUR PLAY? SO WE DO MONITOR THAT INTERNALLY AS WELL THROUGH OUR COMPLIANCE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE DO KNOW OUR CUSTOMERS.  

>>GONZALES: I ALSO WAS INTERESTED IN WHEN YOU WERE GOING THROUGH THE DISCUSSIONS AND GOING TO THE DIFFERENT SCHOOLS AND LEARNING ABOUT SPORTS BETTING, WAS THERE ANY KIND OF DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW THIS MAY BRING TO LIGHT ILLEGAL SPORTS BETTING AT ALL? WAS THAT PART OF THE DISCUSSIONS?   

>>CALABAZA: YEAH, AT THE TRAINING, THEY IDENTIFIED TWO MAJOR SCANDALS THAT HAVE ERUPTED. AND THERE HAS ONLY BEEN TWO WITH COLLEGE BASKETBALL. THAT WAS AT THE BOSTON COLLEGE AND AT ARIZONA STATE. THE WAY THEY FOUND OUT THE ARIZONA STATE ONE WAS YOU HAD THESE KIDS THAT WERE COMING IN FROM TEMPE, WEARING THEIR ARIZONA STATE MEMORABILIA BUT THEY WERE BETTING ON THE OTHER TEAM. SO THAT GAVE RISE TO SUSPICION. LIKE, WHAT ARE THESE KIDS DOING. WHAT DO THEY KNOW THAT WE DON’T. THAT WENT OVER A PERIOD OF SEVERAL WEEKS. UNTIL THEY FINALLY TOOK ARIZONA STATE OFF THE BOARD AND DOWN THE ROAD AFTER SOME INVESTIGATIONS, AFTER CALLS TO THE SCHOOL, THEY FOUND OUT THAT THERE WAS SOME GAME FIXING, SOME POINT SHARING IS WHAT THEY CALL IT, THAT WAS GOING ON. BOSTON COLLEGE ONE IS INFAMOUS BECAUSE IT WAS ARRANGED BY THE MOB, YOU KNOW. THERE WERE MEMBERS OF THE MOB THAT FIXED THOSE GAMES AND I BELIEVE ONE OF THEM IS THE LEAD CHARACTER IN A MOB MOVIE MANY, BUT, YEAH, THAT WAS AT BOSTON COLLEGE.  

>>GONZALES: YOU TALKED A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PLAYERS CLUB AND SOME OF THE MEASURES ISLETA TAKES TO KIND OF TRACK OR PREVENT ANY KIND OF DISHONESTY MAYBE. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO ADD TO THAT OR WHAT ED WAS SAYING?   

>>CHAFINS: IT HELPS WITH US MARKETING WISE SO WE CAN KIND OF SEE WHO BETS ON THE SPORTS GAMES AND ALSO GOES TO THE TABLES AND SLOTS AND WE CAN GIVE OFFERS AND PROMOTIONS ACCORDING TO THAT. IN THE SPORTS BOOK WE ARE CURRENTLY DOING OUR PROMOTION, EVERY TIME YOU MAKE A BET, YOU GET A DRAWING TICKET AND THEN ON MARCH 1, WE’LL DO A DRAWING FOR TWO OR A PAIR OF TICKETS TO THE FINAL FOUR GAMES. IT IS KIND OF TRYING TO PUT OUT THERE THAT WE WOULD LIKE YOUR BUSINESS AND WE’LL ALSO GIVE PROMOTIONS BACK THROUGH US BEING ABLE TO TAKE THE PLAYERS CLUB CARD. THAT DEFINITELY HELPED US FOR A FEW REASONS. IT IS GOOD.  

>>GONZALES: YOU KNOW, LIKE WE SAID AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS TALK, THIS IS FAIRLY NEW FOR STATES, TRIBES. I BELIEVE IS IT A YEAR NEARLY A YEAR OLD THE SPORTS BOOK NOW?   

>>CHAFINS: IT HAS BEEN A YEAR. ACTUALLY WHEN WE STARTED THE PROCESS, THE INITIAL GOAL WAS TO TRY AND GET SPORTS BOOK UP BY MARCH MADNESS LAST YEAR. SO, THANK GOODNESS IT WILL BE UP NOW. SUPER BOWL WAS A LITTLE BIT FAR REACHING BUT, YEAH, I MEAN THOSE ARE TWO BIG EVENTS AND THOSE ARGUABLY ARE THE BIGGEST SPORTS BETTING EVENTS THAT WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE CALENDAR YEAR. WE WERE GUNNING FOR THE MARCH MADNESS DATE. THAT NEVER HAPPENED. THERE WERE SOME DELAYS IN TERMS OF WANTING TO BE THOROUGH, WANTING TO, YOU KNOW, CROSS THE T’S, DOT THE I’S. WE HAD OTHER MEMBERS OF THE TRIBAL COUNCIL THAT HAD NO INTEREST IN US PURSUING THAT. SO, WE HAD OTHERS THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN TO A SPORTS BOOK. SO, IT JUST TOOK A LOT OF EDUCATION, A LOT OF, LIKE I SAID, A LOT OF RESEARCH. WE WANTED TO DO OUR HOMEWORK TO MAKE SURE THIS WAS THE RIGHT THING FOR US TO DO.  

>>GONZALES: WHAT DO YOU HOPE FOR THE FUTURE WHEN IT COMES TO SPORTS BOOK AND SPORTS BETTING AT ISLETA?   

>>CALABAZA: QUITE HONESTLY MY HOPE AS THIS THING PROGRESSES WOULD BE THAT WE ARE ABLE TO GET APPS ON THE MOBILE PHONE AND BE ABLE TO BET LIKE THEY DO IN NEVADA. IN NEVADA THERE IS A GEO FLEX THAT GOES AROUND THE STATE AND YOU CAN MAKE A BET ON YOUR PHONE. AND, SO, THAT GIVES RISE TO IN-GAME WAGERS. IF SOMEBODY IS FOULED IN A BASKETBALL GAME AND HAS FREE THROWS COMING UP, IN-GAME WAGING IS WILL HE MAKE THE FREE THROWS, WILL HE MAKE ONE OUT OF THE TWO? WILL HE MAKE BOTH? THEY PUT UP THOSE ODDS ALMOST INSTANTLY AND IT IS JUST A MORE EXCITING MORE FUN WAY, IN MY OPINION, TO WATCH A GAME. IT IS LIKE THE BETS FOR THE SUPER BOWL. THEY HAVE DIFFERENT BETS OF WHAT COLOR IS THE GATORADE GOING TO BE, WHO IS GOING TO WIN THE COIN TOSS? WILL SOMEBODY MAKE AN INTERCEPTION AND RUN BACK FOR THE TOUCHDOWN. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THESE BETS. HOW LONG WILL THE NATIONAL ANTHEM GO? IT IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS, THAT JUST, FOR ME, AS A LONG-TIME SPORTS WATCHER AND SPORTS ADVOCATE, IT JUST BRINGS MORE EXCITEMENT TO THE GAME.  

>>GONZALES: Staci…   

>>CHAFINS: I THINK THAT RIGHT NOW WE RIGHT NOW WE HAVE FIVE SPORTS WRITING TERMINALS FOR PEOPLE TO MAKE BETS AND FOUR KIOSK MACHINES. WE ARE ALREADY GROWING WITH THE LINES OF PEOPLE WE HAVE AND TO JUST MAKE IT A MORE EXCITING PLACE TO BE. RIGHT NOW EVERYONE LOVES BEING THERE AND BECOME FRIENDS. PEOPLE THAT DON’T EACH OTHER BUT THEY ARE CHEERING ON THE SAME TEAM AND THEY ARE ALL FRIENDS. SO, JUST MORE OF THAT, JUST TO SEE WHERE WE STAND. WE ARE ONLY LESS THAN SIX MONTHS OPEN. SO, WE WILL SEE. AND EXCITED FOR THE FUTURE.  

>>GONZALES: ED, YOUR THOUGHTS ON TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY, TRIBAL CASINOS, INDIAN GAME AS PART OF TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY AND ALSO TO BENEFIT TRIBAL CITIZENS, THEIR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND THE BETTERMENT OF OVERALL COMMUNITIES, THOUGHTS ON ISLETA.   

>>CALABAZA: ALL OF THAT GOES HAND IN HAND. IF WE CAN PROVIDE A GREAT PLACE FOR ENTERTAINMENT FOR PEOPLE TO GO THERE, AS THE BUSINESS GROWS, THEN WE BENEFIT AS A TRIBE BECAUSE WE DO HAVE A GOOD PORTION OF OUR TRIBAL BUDGET IS SUPPORTED BY THE CASINO. SO, AS THAT GROWS AND OUR BUDGET GROWS, YOU KNOW, WE WOULD LIKE TO GET MORE SOCIAL PROGRAMS IN THE WORKS, TO HELP OUT THE RESIDENTS AND TRIBAL MEMBERS OF ISLETA. WE ARE A SOVEREIGN NATION. IN FACT, THE FIRST COMPANY THAT WE WENT TO THAT WAS GOING TO HELP US OUT TO MAKE — THAT WAS GOING TO TAKE THE RISK OF SETTING OUR LINES, HAD TO BACK OUT BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T WANT TO — THEY WANTED US TO WAIVE OUR SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY. AND THAT IS SOMETHING A TRIBE WOULD NEVER DO. WE WENT BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD AND HAD TO WAIT FOR ANOTHER COMPANY THAT WAS WILLING TO SAY, WE RESPECT YOUR RIGHT FOR SOVEREIGNTY AND WE’LL WORK WITH YOU. 

>>GONZALES: THANK YOU BOTH FOR BEING HERE TODAY AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO FOLLOWING THIS ISSUE UP IN THE FUTURE AND, ED, YOUR SUPER BOWL PREDICTION?   

>>CALABAZA: I THINK IT WILL BE A HIGH SCORING GAME. I AM GOING TO TAKE THE –  

>>GONZALES: YOU’RE A HUGE SPORTS FAN. THANK YOU BOTH.   

>>CHAFINS: THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.  

Sec. Lynn Trujillo Heads Agency Supporting New Mexico Tribes

1308 Sec Trujillo

August 23, 2019 – This week on New Mexico in Focus, correspondent Antonia Gonzales goes to Sandia Pueblo for an interview with Sec. Lynn Trujillo of the New Mexico Department of Indian Affairs. Trujillo talks about tribal priorities on the state level, including big changes to education and the state’s response to the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls crisis.

Guest:
Sec. Lynn Trujillo, New Mexico Department of Indian Affairs