La Mesa’s final appeal denied renewing Quay County’s bid for a racetrack and casino

The race is on again in Quay County's bid for the state's last racetrack and casino license.

A spokesman said Quay County will ask the New Mexico Racing Commission next week to once again open applications. The request follows a state Court of Appeals decision on Thursday that upheld nullification of the license once held by La Mesa racino in Raton.

What it all means is there are no more hold ups as far as Raton is concerned, their licenses are gone, said Warren Frost, executive director of the Quay County Gaming Authority.

La Mesa's final appeal argued there was no final written order or action taken during the New Mexico Racing Commission's May 2010 meeting to revoke the racing license.

The commission decided it did not have to take action at the meeting because the issued license had already expired, said Vince Mares, director of the racing commission.

Mares said La Mesa's racing license was null once it expired, there was no need to revoke the license at that point.

The decision by Court of Appeals judge Michael D. Bustamante upheld the commission's decision, ruling there was no appealable final order and the court declined to review La Mesa's arguments saying they were moot.

Frost said the court declined to review the merits of La Mesa's claim because there is in no actual remedy available to racino.

Frost said the authority would attend the state racing commission's meeting on Thursday and will request the commission open the application process and proceed to make a decision. He said the Quay County authority will review and update their current application, which was submitted in 2011.

Mares said there would be no action taken during Thursday's meeting because there was no time to add an action item to the agenda. He said the earliest any decision can be made would be during the April 25 commission meeting.

Frost said they are excited to have an opportunity to compete for the license. He said the authority is expecting some type of re-application by Raton. A group from Hobbs is also expected to apply because they want to increase the number of slot machines currently allotted to them, according to Frost.

Frost said the time lost to appeals in the La Mesa case has hurt Quay County and the state. He said they have both missed out in the money the racetrack and casino could have been generating for these past few years.

The bid for the state's last racing and gaming licenses was halted in March 2011 after a injunction was filed in Colfax County ordering the New Mexico Racing Commission to stop accepting applications until La Mesa's two appeals could be heard.

The first appeal disputed the New Mexico Gaming Control Board decision in 2010 to nullify license for La Mesa, which was awarded the state's final gaming and racing licenses in June 2009. Tucumcari also lobbied for those licenses. The nullification was based on La Mesa's failure to open the casino by May 2010 or show it had adequate financing to complete the racetrack.

In June 2012 the Court of Appeals upheld a decision from the board to invalidate the gaming license for a planned racetrack and casino in Raton.

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