In 1994 the voters of New Mexico passed a public referendum allowing the creation of the NM Lottery. On April 27, 1996, the New Mexico Lottery started selling its first lottery tickets, becoming the 38th lottery in the United States. Lottery proceeds split 60% to the Public School Outlay Fund and 40% to the NM Lottery Tuition Fund.
As of Fiscal Year 2017, the NM Lottery had transferred over $738 million to the state of New Mexico since the commencement of sales in April 1996. Currently, all lottery funds are earmarked for higher education through the Legislative Lottery Scholarship program administered by the New Mexico Higher Education Department.