Press release: Racetrack officials appeal license revocation

ALBUQUERQUE – The La Mesa Racetrack and Casino announced today it has appealed last month’s decision of the Gaming Control Board (GCB) to revoke its gaming license, fighting back by saying that it had complied with all the issues raised by the GCB and that the Board did not give it appropriate legal due process during the hearing.

“This decision by the Gaming Control Board shows complete disregard for what’s in the best interests of the state,” said attorney for La Mesa Sam Bregman, after filing the appeal. “We look forward through this process of finding out why the Board took this irresponsible action, which is both unlawful and very hurtful to the people of Northern New Mexico.”

“We are just a few weeks from opening and it just makes absolutely no sense to pull this license,” said La Mesa developer Michael Moldenhauer. “We are not going to give up on Raton. We are not going to let down the people of Northern New Mexico, who are counting on the jobs. Losing this project would be a heartbreaker for all of us, but especially the workers and the small businesses that are counting on the economic activity.”

Moldenhauer said that the appeal process allows La Mesa to demonstrate that all technical issues for this project have been addressed and that the project is on the verge of opening and becoming an economic engine for Northern New Mexico.

“We believe we will succeed in this appeal because when the Board members see all the facts in front of them, the wisdom will be obvious as to why this project should go forward for the people of Northern New Mexico,” said Moldenhauer.

Last month, just as the first casino building was about to open in Raton, with construction of the racetrack scheduled for completion this summer, the GCB pulled the license of La Mesa, citing some technical issues. “But those issues had already been resolved,” said Bregman. “We know the Gaming Board made a kneejerk decision, and that it was both wrong and unlawful. We look forward to the discovery process to find out exactly what happened. The Board has sold out Raton, and we’re going to fight it.”

La Mesa Racetrack and Casino had recruited over 100 potential employees from Raton and the surrounding areas of Northern New Mexico, and these 100 jobs are on hold until this can be resolved. Over 300 people are to be hired once the project is complete, but those jobs are in jeopardy as well.

“Let us open, that’s all we ask,” said Moldenhauer. “Construction of the casino is substantially complete. We had already started taking delivery of the slot machines and furnishings in anticipation of opening. Now we just need some common sense to prevail to get this project open.”

“We are going to show, in this appeal process and afterwards in court if we need to, that this decision was both unlawful and deeply hurtful to La Mesa, the city of Raton, and the people of Northern New Mexico,” said Bregman.

The 21-page appeal, accompanied by 91 exhibits, was filed today, asking that the GCB hear the appeal within 60 days. In the appeal, it shows that La Mesa had complied with the technical issues raised by the Board, and that it has financing lined up to build the project. The appeal states that La Mesa was certainly not given “due process” when the license was revoked, and not given time to address the issues used by the Board in its decision.

“In a state desperate for tax dollars and new jobs, this decision makes no sense,” said Bregman.