Racing commission to hear public input on license

By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer

The New Mexico Racing Commission plans to sit in on an Aug. 21 meeting of the New Mexico Gaming Control Board to hear public input concerning the possible issuing of a sixth gaming license for another race track in New Mexico.

The commissioners will not be making a presentation at the meeting and will only be observing, said Vince Mares, commission director.

Mares said the commission has elected to wait to hold a public input session until their September meeting, giving them a chance to hear the public opinions expressed at the gaming board’s meeting.

Mares said at the commission had planned on setting a public session in August. He said because of the change, the commission is not likely to make a decision on the license until October or November.

There is not an agenda item concerning a sixth gaming or racing license listed on the Aug. 21 agenda, said Peggy Hardwick, racing commission public information officer and lead counsel.

The racing commission held an input session for the horse racing industry during their July 18 meeting. Officials with Hobbs based Zia Parks, which is owned and operated by Penn National Gaming, voiced their support the of a sixth license. Along with Zia Parks the New Mexico Horseman Association and Jockeys’ Guild supported issuing of another license.

Mares said Zia Parks wants to apply for the license to expand their existing gaming operations and have nighttime racing at their track.

Senior vice president of public relations for Penn National Gaming, D. Eric Schippers, could not be reached for comment.

Two unnamed private entities have shown an interest in bringing the sixth racino license to Curry County, according to real estate agent Paul Stout and Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas. Interests in Lordsburg and Raton have also indicated they plan to apply for the license if it is issued.

The racing commission, originally awarded the sixth license to Canadian developer Michael Moldenhauer in 2009 who planned to build La Mesa a racetrack and casino in Raton. Moldenhauer failed to open La Mesa a racetrack and casino by the May 2010 deadline or show he had adequate financing to complete the racetrack.

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