Gaming authority says it wants level playing field

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Which racetrack and casino proposal will end up with a coveted prize: A site on the heavily trafficked I-40?

Now, that Albuquerque Downs racetrack wants to move to Moriarity on I-40, the Quay County Gaming Authority is stepping back a pace, and mounting its own offensive to win approval from the state Racing Commission for its site on Tucumcari on I-40.

“There can’t be two (racetrack/casinos) 140 miles apart,” said Warren Frost, executive director of the authority, at Thursday’s meeting.
Tucumcari’s proposal should be allowed to compete with the Moriarity request and the competition should be on a level playing field, Frost told authority members.

Frost said he has asked that Tucumcari’s plan to apply for a license be considered at the commission’s next meeting in June.
Frost said he was concerned that the competition wasn’t even after attending the state Racing Commission’s meeting on Wednesday. At the meeting, officials of The Downs at Albuquerque, including president Paul Blanchard, made their proposal and a request to renew their license with a move to Moriarity.

The commission tabled their request because its legal counsel said their application should be a request for a new license, not a renewal and should include approval from the gaming tribes, Frost said.

At stake is the authority’s plan to request a license from the commission for a racetrack in Tucumcari that would be on a 250-acre site between I-40 and Mountain Road.

The authority, which represents the interests of Quay County, Tucumcari and the villages of Logan and San Jon, wants to build a $30 million complex on the site. It’s projected to provide more than 100 jobs and add revenue to the authority’s governmental members.
In a letter to Julian Luna, director of the state Racing Commission, dated May 24, Frost wrote: “We are simply asking that the Racing Commission provide us with a level playing field concerning the granting of the final license.

“We request that the New Mexico Racing Commission set a deadline for the filing of any and all applications for the license. This would give our group, Mr. Blanchard, Raton, Pojoaque and anyone else wishing to apply for the license an opportunity to get their application filed, at which point the Racing Commission can go through an orderly process to determine which application is best suited for New Mexico racing. We also request that we be placed on the agenda for the special meeting the first week in June so that we can make the Racing Commission as a whole aware of our concerns.”

At the authority meeting, Frost said, “(We are) still optimistic. I think we have a good argument.”

In the meantime, the authority postponed its selection of an architect until after the June meeting with the commission.
“Two weeks won’t hurt us,” said Frost.