Raton investment group plans racing, gaming license application

A new investment group has expressed interest in building a race track and casino in Raton should La Mesa fail in its appeal to save their gaming and racing license.

La Mesa was awarded the state's final gaming and racing licenses in June 2009. Those licenses were nullified by the New Mexico Gaming Control Board the following year.

Canadian developer Michael Moldenhauer filed two appeals at the New Mexico Court of Appeals, contesting the voiding of their licenses.

On June 12, the court voted to uphold nullification of the gaming license by the New Mexico Court of Appeals. The court has yet to rule on the racing license.

City Manager Pete Kampfer said a new group of investors has stated they will submit an application should Moldenhauer's attempts to save La Mesa fail.

Kampfer said the three-member group is comprised of businessmen, one of which is a personal friend and wishes to remain anonymous at this time. He said they have spoken with a Las Vegas, Nev., -based firm that has experience in racetracks and casinos.

Kampfer said Raton is not part of the group though is supportive of any group which would bring economic development to the city. He said if nothing more, this new group is an insurance policy for the community should Moldenhauer's project go belly up.

"It does not matter who Raton gets, a race track and casino will not work in Raton," said Warren Frost, executive director Quay County Gaming Authority.

Frost said he is sympathetic to Raton's need for economic development because Quay County is in the same boat. He said sympathy aside, the truth is a casino and race track will not work in Raton because Colorado has gaming and I-25 has a fraction of the traffic of I-40.

Frost said they are taking everyone who applies for the license seriously.

"It's proven, a casino and race track will not work in Raton," Frost said. "If it did, Moldenhauer would have made it work."

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