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State’s sportsbooks coming back into play

Green is the desired color for New Mexico counties in regard to coronavirus restrictions being relaxed. Green (as in money) is also on the minds of sports bettors in the state with sportsbooks reopening in the Land of Enchantment.

Route 66 casino’s The Book reopened Friday to join the sportsbooks currently open at Isleta, south of Albuquerque; Inn of the Mountain Gods in Mescalero and Santa Claran in Española.

Isleta, Inn of the Mountain Gods and Santa Claran are open to the public, including those from out of state, while Route 66 is allowing solely New Mexico residents at this time.

Isleta reopened Feb. 3, and Inn of the Mountain Gods and Santa Claran had also been available before Super Bowl LV to experience an uptick in business for bets on the big game and props.

“We were very busy leading up to the Super Bowl with lots of action on props and on Kansas City,” Inn of the Mountain Gods representatives said in an email through public relations director Madison Spiegel.

“Business is still steady with NBA, college basketball and March Madness on the horizon.”

Isleta is not commenting about its reopening, Isleta marketing director Jaci Marx said.

Safety and cleanliness are high priorities for any place of business, including casinos, during the coronavirus pandemic.

At Route 66, Laguna Pueblo leaders were strategic in deciding the casino’s reopening, Route 66 marketing director Trevor Taylor said.

“We evaluated what we could do safely,” Taylor said. “We do not yet have table games open. We do not yet have bingo open. We did not open our main eateries, Stadium 66 and Thunder Road. We did that out of an abundance of safety.”

The kiosks to make self bets at each of the casinos are socially distanced. There are select hours for betting at a window.

Route 66 casino is open 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. After closing, the staff conducts a deep cleaning of the entire property, Taylor said.

The casino has a CARE team that maintains the casino’s cleanliness, Taylor said. CARE is an acronym for Committed to being Accessible, Responsive and Engaged for guests’ safety.

Casinos went through renovations of different sorts during the pandemic with plexiglass separators installed and markings for where to stand so that bettors could be properly distanced while waiting in line.

At each of the sportsbooks, betting ticket writers answer questions for the beginner bettors. At Isleta and Inn of the Mountain Gods, betting instruction booklets are provided.

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