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Casino’s new sportsbook won’t take wagers on UNM, New Mexico State

No Lobo games. No Aggies.

But the bets are coming.

As has been reported earlier this week, Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel on Wednesday confirmed publicly for the first time it will be in the sports betting game, bringing to New Mexico the first sportsbook featuring live wagering on professional and college sporting events.

The new sportsbook will open Tuesday at Santa Ana and be located in the middle of the casino with four betting stations.

“We are extremely proud of the fact that Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel is the first tribal casino in the state of New Mexico, and one of the first in the nation, to launch a sportsbook,” Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel Chief Executive Officer John Cirrincione said in a Wednesday statement.

On Monday, a website in Las Vegas, Nev., broke the news, followed by the Journal on Tuesday that included comments from lawmakers and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. Santa Ana did not answer questions or comment publicly until Wednesday.

Following the news release, Cirrincione answered several questions in a separate email to the Journal. He confirmed that neither University of New Mexico nor New Mexico State University games will be available to bet on, and there will be generally lower limits on bets than at other sportsbooks. Specific betting limits have not been announced.

“We are planning to take bets on all major professional and collegiate sports with the exception of UNM and New Mexico State,” Cirrincione told the Journal. “Although we believe there would be interest on betting on local teams, we believe it best not to take bets on these teams.”

The move to open the sportsbook comes on the heels of a May U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, essentially dropping the federal restrictions on sports betting and leaving it up to state laws or, in the case of the Pueblo of Santa Ana, an interpretation of the individual gaming compacts.

“The Tribal-State Compact allows tribal casinos in New Mexico to operate all forms of Class III gaming,” Cirrincione said. “Sports betting is Class III gaming. The Pueblo of Santa Ana is a sovereign nation with its own laws allowing all forms of Class III gaming in its casino.”

Santa Ana is partnering to run its sports betting operation with USBookmaking, a Las Vegas, Nev., based company.

The sportsbook will operate Monday through Friday, noon to 8 p.m. and on weekends 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Two self-service kiosks will be available during off-hours.

No alcohol will be served in the sportsbook area, just like the gaming floor itself, but Cirrincione says major sporting events will continue to be shown at other areas around the casino, as they are now.

Cirrincione declined to disclose what percentage of the profit Santa Ana will make and what percentage will be kept by USBookmaking.

“Sports betting has a very small house advantage and is quite labor intensive,” Cirrincione said. “Since we won’t be taking the big bets you would see in Las Vegas (Nev.), our net profit projections are between a small profit and a small loss. Our intent of adding the sportsbook is to add another amenity for guests but not necessarily as a significant profit center.”

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