Court of Appeals upholds voiding of La Mesa’s gaming license

The State Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a decision from the New Mexico Gaming Control Board to invalidate a gaming license for a planned race track and casino in Raton — news that gives more life to the possibility of Tucumcari gaining such a facility instead.

The board decided in 2010 to nullify licenses for La Mesa, which was awarded the state's final gaming and racing licenses in June 2009. Tucumcari also lobbied for those licenses. The nullifiation was based on La Mesa's failure to open the casino by May 2010 or show it had adequate financing to complete the racetrack.

Warren Frost, executive director of the Quay County Gaming Authority, said a motion will be filed to also dismiss a separate appeal from La Mesa on the nullification of its racing license. Frost said the pending appeal is moot, thanks to La Mesa no longer holding a gaming license.

"In the state of New Mexico," Frost said, "you cannot have a racing license without a gaming license."

La Mesa appealed the NMGCB's decision to the appeals court, arguing the board failed to give due process.

Peggy Hardwick, senior staff counsel for the board, said La Mesa argued it submitted a petition for extension of deadlines to open, but so far have provided no documentation of such.

Hardwick said to meet a deadline, La Mesa set up a tent facility as a temporary casino, but there was no inventory of gaming machines, restrooms or infrastructure to monitor the gaming machines.

In March of 2011, the racing commission had reopened the application process for the racing and gaming licenses, but the process came to a halt after a injunction was filed in Colfax County. The injunction ordered the New Mexico Racing Commission to stop accepting applications until La Mesa's appeals could be heard.

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