Navajo planning to launch sports betting by March Madness in New Mexico | Yogonet International
Its CEO traveled to Las Vegas to close a partnership with a major sports betting company

Navajo planning to launch sports betting by March Madness in New Mexico

Navajo Gaming Enterprise CEO Brian Parrish said he planned to travel to Las Vegas last Wednesday to finalize an agreement with a major sports betting company there to partner up with.
2020-01-20
United States
Reading time 2:19 min
Navajo Gaming Enterprise has three casinos in the state and one in Arizona, where sports betting is expected to take longer because the tribes will be required to renegotiate their compacts with the state.

The Navajo Gaming Enterprise is getting closer to offer sports betting at its casinos in New Mexico, and eventually Arizona.

The enterprise had been hoping to have this ability last fall when the 2019 pro football season began or at least in time for the Super Bowl, which generates more betting than any other sports event during the year. That did not happen, but Brian Parrish, the interim CEO of the enterprise, is confident that everything will be ready for patrons to bet by March Madness, the playoff period for NCAA college basketball, the Navajo Times reports.

The professional football season, by far, generates the most interest among persons who do sports betting, Parrish said, but there is also a lot of interest for betting on basketball and baseball, and the gaming enterprise wants to be able to cater to this interest.

After PASPA’s repeal in May 2018,  allowing the states to set rules that would make sports betting legal at the state’s Indian casinos, the Santa Ana Star Casino in Albuquerque began accepting sports betting even before New Mexico state had established rules governing the practice. A little later, another casino, this one on the Pojoaque Pueblo, began accepting sports betting as well.

Other tribes, such as the Navajo, were more cautious and waited for the state to issue its rules. Now that that has been done, they are making plans to enter the sports betting arena sometime this year in New Mexico, where the company operates Fire Rock Navajo Casino, Flowing Water Navajo Casino and Northern Edge Navajo Casino. The same is true in Arizona, but that is expected to take a little longer because the tribes will be required to renegotiate their compacts with the state to make it a reality.

Parrish said Tuesday he planned to travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday to finalize an agreement with a major sports betting company there to partner up with the gaming enterprise. The enterprise needs a partner who is knowledgeable about the odds since it would be expensive and too much of a risk for the enterprise to figure out its own odds for such bets. Also, having a big name partner takes away the risk of a major upset costing the enterprise a lot of money, and that’s one of the main reasons Indian casinos make this move.

Sports betting is part of an overall strategy that the enterprise is embarking on to help it pay down its loan to the tribe and have revenue for future endeavors, including the addition of more casinos. Parrish said the enterprise meets with Council committees and the president’s office on a regular basis to discuss its strategy to develop non-casino projects such as the recent purchase of a restaurant in Flagstaff and the development of businesses surrounding the Twin Arrows Casino and Resort in Arizona. 

Since the council agreed more than a year ago to reduce the loan percentage the casino was paying on some $220 million it borrowed to build Twin Arrows, the enterprise has been slowly reducing the loan’s principal and began generating revenue for these outside projects.

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