Racing commission to discuss reopening license applications


April 16, 2013

The New Mexico Racing Commission will discuss reopening the application process for the state's last racing license during their April 25 meeting.

Considering restarting the application process follows a state Court of Appeals decision March 21 upholding the racing commission's decision to yank the license once held by La Mesa racino in Raton.

The commission will be monitoring La Mesa developer Michael Moldenhauer, to see if he files an appeal in the state Supreme Court, said Vince Mares, commission director.

Mares said Moldenhauer has 30 days from the March 21 to file an appeal to New Mexico's highest court.

"There is still no indication if Moldenhauer will appeal," Mares said. "His actions will dictate the direction the commission will take."

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.

Mares said the commission decided it did not have to take action at the meeting because the license had already expired. He said La Mesa's racing license was null once it expired and 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.

Acting on the Court of Appeals ruling and anticipating the re-start of the application process, the Quay County Gaming Authority has begun to review and update the 2011 application submitted by Coronado Partners LLC.

The majority owner of Coronado Partners, LLC, Don Chalmers, has an agreement with the communities of Quay County to support his application for the license.

The communities are contractually obligated to support Chalmers application, in return for 5 percent of net profits, said Warren Frost, executive director Quay County Gaming Authority.

In that contract, Tucumcari will receive 2 percent while, Logan San Jon and Quay County will receive 1 percent each.

Frost said the authority is in the process of updating income projections, which updates current information, which is now two years old. He said they are also considering a revision of proposed race dates.

"The information contained in the application is stale," Frost said. "We want to provide the commission with an up to date picture."

Frost said the possibility of the application process being re-opened has sparked interest from other entities looking to land the racetrack and casino.

Hobbs has expressed interest in the racing license for the purpose of expanding its casino. The additional racing license would be needed to obtain a second gaming license to permit the additional slot machines.

In 2012, then-Raton City Manager Pete Kampfer stated a new group of investors said 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 would not reveal the identity of the group members, who have since been identified as Frank M. Bond, a former gubernatorial candidate and Santa Fe attorney, Ernie Wood of Colorado City, Texas, and Lyle Burns of Alto.

According to an article in the Raton Range newspaper, Bond said his group remains "absolutely" interested in its Raton racino project, believing that Raton's connection to horseracing in New Mexico — it was home to the state's first track — and distance away from the state's existing five tracks make the city a good spot for a new racino.

The Raton City Commission passed a resolution to support bringing a race track and casino back to the city, said Butch McGowen, interim city manager.

McGowen said the resolution did not specify which group the city would support, only that any effort to bring horse racing back to Raton would be supported.


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