New Mexico casinos looking to boost business with big renovations

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s a casino building boom in the Albuquerque area and with gambling profits stagnant, some tribal casinos are upping the ante. That includes casinos like Isleta and Santa Ana, which are taking a big gamble on major renovations and upgrades.

“Improvements are needed in order to invite more people into our business,” said Robert Benavides, Governor of Isleta Pueblo.

According to the stats from the New Mexico Gaming Control Board, in the last five years, slot profits reported to the state by tribal casinos are down by about $15-million. Even Sandia Casino, one of the most dominant in New Mexico casinos, is making millions less on its slots.

Tribal casinos only report their slot profits to the state, so there’s no way of knowing how much they make off tables games, bars, restaurants, hotels and entertainment.

In the Albuquerque area, Isleta Casino just announced a $40-million renovation, while Santa Ana is spending $85-million on upgrades with the centerpiece being an eight-story hotel attached to the casino.

It will likely take a while to see if all the construction brings in more dollars to the casinos. Isleta is expecting their project to take almost two years and there is no word on when Santa Ana’s hotel will open.

Economists say the real key for a booming casino industry is to bring in money from outside of New Mexico, making the casinos and their resorts a destination for more than just locals.

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