Sports Betting at New Mexico’s Tribal Casinos


>>Gene: 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: 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.>>Calabaza: THANK YOU FOR
HAVING US.>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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?>>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.>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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?>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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.>>Antonia: 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
–>>Antonia: YOU’RE A
HUGE SPORTS FAN. THANK YOU BOTH.>>Chafins: THANK YOU FOR HAVING
US.

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