Charles D. Brunt
The New Mexico Racing Commission is no longer accepting applications for the state’s sixth racino because of a court injunction, the five-member panel announced Monday.
Following a nearly 90-minute closed executive session, board chairman Rob Doughty III announced the moratorium, saying 8th Judicial District Judge John Paternoster in Raton is expected to sign the injunction this week.
Albuquerque attorney Sam Bregman, who represents Canadian developer Michael Moldenhauer, successfully sought the injunction which will be in effect until all legal questions regarding the revocation of Moldenhauer’s racing license are adjudicated.
Moldenhauer is protesting the revocations of his state racing license, which is required to conduct horse racing and wagering, and of his gaming license, which is needed to operate slot machines.
Moldenhauer lost both licenses after he failed to build the proposed $50 million racino in Raton in time to conduct live racing by Memorial Day 2010.
Bregman has an appeal pending with the New Mexico Court of Appeals regarding the revocation of Moldenhauer’s gaming license.
Tania Maestas, an assistant state attorney general who represents the Racing Commission, said an application filed in July by a group of investors hoping to build a racino in Tucumcari will remain on file with the Racing Commission. The group, Coronado Partners, is headed by Albuquerque businessman Don Chalmers.
The Racing Commission, which regulates New Mexico’s pari-mutuel horse racing industry, had set a Sept. 23 application deadline.
When the state renegotiated its 2001 gaming compacts with casino-operating tribes in 2007, it extended the compacts until 2037, and agreed to limit gambling competition by capping the number of racinos in the state to six. Unless the compacts are renegotiated or the state Legislature or tribes take some drastic measure that would void the compacts, there isn’t likely to be another racino in the state until 2037.
In other action Monday, the Racing Commission voted to replace executive director India Hatch, who had been with the agency since May 2009. Vince Mares, chief investigator for the commission, was named as interim executive director, effective today.