New Mex­ico reg­u­la­tors de­lay de­ci­sion on ra­cino li­cense

El Dorado News-Times - - Fun & Games -

AL­BU­QUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Bid­ders vy­ing for a li­cense to build New Mex­ico's sixth and fi­nal horse race­track and casino will have to wait longer for a fi­nal de­ci­sion after reg­u­la­tors on Thurs­day put off award­ing the cov­eted li­cense when an ap­pli­cant sought a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion.

The New Mex­ico Rac­ing Com­mis­sion voted unan­i­mously to ta­ble the de­ci­sion. Chair­man Ray Wil­lis said it was in the best in­ter­est of the com­mis­sion to seek le­gal ad­vice be­fore go­ing for­ward.

At­tor­neys for Hi­dalgo Downs, a group that wants to build a ra­cino in south­west­ern New Mex­ico, filed a pe­ti­tion last week in an ef­fort to put the brakes on the process.

In the doc­u­ments filed in state district court, at­tor­neys for Hi­dalgo Downs said a fea­si­bil­ity study look­ing into a pos­si­ble sixth ra­cino was flawed and "failed to ad­e­quately con­sider the pro­pos­als" of the five ap­pli­cants.

Hi­dalgo Downs said it wants an­other study be­fore the com­mis­sion is­sues a li­cense.

The five ex­ist­ing ra­ci­nos have voiced con­cerns about adding a sixth venue, say­ing do­ing so would hurt their busi­ness.

In a Nov. 13 let­ter to the com­mis­sion, they de­scribed New Mex­ico's rac­ing in­dus­try as "far from healthy and not in need of ad­di­tional forces creat­ing ad­di­tional down­ward pres­sures."

Ta­nia Maes­tas, the state's chief deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral for civil af­fairs and op­er­a­tions, said the com­mis­sion will likely re­spond to the Hildago Downs pe­ti­tion next week. She said it plans to is­sue a sixth li­cense but no meet­ings on the is­sue are sched­uled.

Un­der state com­pacts with casino-op­er­at­ing Na­tive Amer­i­can tribes, only six ra­ci­nos are al­lowed in New Mex­ico. The five ex­ist­ing es­tab­lish­ments are in Hobbs, Rui­doso, Farm­ing­ton, Al­bu­querque and Sun­land Park.

There are three pro­pos­als for a ra­cino in the eastern New Mex­ico com­mu­nity of Clo­vis, in­clud­ing one that would fea­ture a mov­ing grand­stand to al­low spec­ta­tors to travel along­side run­ning horses.

Tu­cum­cari, along his­toric Route 66 in eastern New Mex­ico, is the lo­ca­tion cited in two other pro­pos­als. Hi­dalgo Downs wants to build its ra­cino in Lords­burg, near the Ari­zona bor­der.

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