By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
The Quay County Gaming Authority is shifting its priorities from convincing the New Mexico Racing Commission that Tucumcari is the best option for the sixth license to convincing them that issuing a sixth license is still a viable course of action.
The New Mexico Racing Commission announced Thursday they want to gather input from the horse racing industry before hearing community interest concerning a sixth and final racing license, according Warren Frost, who represents authority.
New Mexico Racing Commission’s Director Vince Mares and commission chair Robert M. Doughty III were not immediately available for comment.
Frost said the racing commission wants to first gather information from breeders, horsemen, jockeys and the state’s five existing license holders. Frost said this has prompted the authority to adjust their strategy from just promoting Tucumcari to promoting the overall benefits to the state and any community that would be awarded to the sixth license.
Two unnamed private entities has shown an interest in bringing the sixth racino license to Curry County, according to real estate agent Paul Stout and City Manager Joe Thomas. Interests in Hobbs, Lordsburg and Raton have also indicated they plan to apply for the license.
Frost said he plans to present the commission with data and documentation collected and compiled by the Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University, regarding the economic impact issuing a sixth license will have for Tucumcari and Quay County and the benefits to the state.
“It’s going to be an economic boost to any community that is awarded the license,” Frost said.
Frost said he would present the data during a July 18 racing commission meeting to show how prudent it is for the commission to open up the application process and give Tucumcari and other entities an opportunity to apply for the sixth license.
The Quay County Gaming Authority has shown continued interest and support of Don Chalmers’ bid to bring the racino to Tucumcari since the original bid in 2009.
Chalmers is the principal backer to Coronado Partners LLC, an investment group that first applied for the sixth license that was eventually awarded to Raton. Canadian developer’s Michael Moldenhauer planned to build La Mesa a racetrack and casino in Raton.
The commission, however, said Moldenhauer failed to open the casino by a May 2010 deadline or show he had adequate financing to complete the racetrack. The New Mexico Gaming Control Board then voted to invalidate their gambling license which was followed by the nullification of their racing license by the racing commission.
Moldenhauer lost two appeals filed in a New Mexico’s State Court of Appeals.