By Tom Carroll
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – La Mesa Racetrack and Casino today filed for an injunction in district court, asking the court to stop the New Mexico Racing Commission from giving away its license to another racetrack operator.
La Mesa was awarded a license for a racetrack and casino in 2009 and has spent several million dollars on the construction of a temporary casino on the site in Raton, NM, with plans for a permanent racetrack, hotel and casino. However, the petition states that the Racing Commission has breached the terms of its Order by refusing to issue race dates in 2010, causing La Mesa to sue in state court. Earlier this month, the Racing Commission announced that it would put the license out to bid again, which is the cause of this petition for an injunction to stop that illegal process and risks breaching the terms of the 2007 Tribal-State Gaming Compacts.
“There are only six licenses permitted in the state of New Mexico,” said La Mesa attorney Sam Bregman. “The sixth one was issued and we believe, belongs to La Mesa. We are respectfully asking a judge to stop this process until the appeals can be resolved in court.”
Since there are only six licenses allowed in New Mexico, granting a new one would place the new license holder in serious financial jeopardy if La Mesa wins the appeal.
“The new license holder stands to lose a lot of money if La Mesa prevails in the appeal and the license is handed back to La Mesa,” said Bregman. “All the resources of the new license holder would be at risk.”
In addition, having more than six license holders would violate the gaming compacts with the tribes, throwing into dispute the revenue-sharing agreements.
“The gaming compacts themselves would be at risk,” said Bregman. “It just doesn’t make any sense to have a new license holder until the La Mesa appeal is decided.”
The petition for the injunction states that the Racing Commission revoked La Mesa’s license for two inappropriate reasons: one, that it failed to obtain a license to operate gaming machines from the NM Gaming Control Board; and two, that it failed to hold live horse races by Memorial Day 2010. However, La Mesa did receive a license from the Gaming Control Board, which was later revoked for not holding horse races. And the race dates for horse racing for La Mesa were submitted to the Racing Commission on April 15, 2010 and never approved nor denied. The request was tabled and never acted upon, thus preventing La Mesa from obtaining race dates in 2010.
“La Mesa has built a temporary casino in Raton, and remains committed and ready to complete the racetrack,” said President Michael Moldenhauer. “We have every hope that our appeal will be successful and that we can proceed with the building of the racetrack and casino.”