And they're off ...
Eight in race for state’s sixth and last racino.
August 1, 2018
For Warren Frost, confident in Tucumcari’s qualifications for the state’s next racino, it’s “the more the merrier.”
That was his reaction to Monday’s news that eight groups have applied to the New Mexico Racing Commission for a racetrack/casino.
Of the entities that submitted “letters of intent,” by the deadline at end of business day Monday, three had eyes for Clovis, two for Raton, and one each for Tucumcari, Las Vegas and Lordsburg.
Final applications are due Aug. 17 for the state’s sixth and final racino license, which has gone unused subsequent to Raton folding on its award from lack of finances in 2008.
Frost was with a group then to apply for a license, and has not lost sight of that goal since. He said Monday he was with Logan’s Coronado Partners, LLC, which submitted its letter July 23. In that letter managing member Tom Krumland said the group had already completed its racing application and that the gaming application would be soon to follow.
In May, as the pool for applications opened, Frost said the group envisions a horse racetrack and casino on a location by Interstate 40 and Route 66, and estimated the state at large had lost over $100 million the past decade by being without a sixth active racino license.
He was pleased, then, to hear of all the interested contenders early this week.
“You know, I think it’s great. I think the more competition there is the better. It’ll make sure that whoever’s granted a license is deserving of it. It’s best for the state,” he said in a phone interview. “The more the merrier.”
Frost said he attended the NMRC’s special meeting Monday afternoon in Albuquerque, where they announced “that only those people that submitted a letter of intent can file an application.” As the process advances, NMRC will conduct a feasibility study to assess factors such as anticipated economic impact and staffing capacity, according to its executive director.
“We want our own independent, unbiased, third-party study done that is no way connected to any of these (applicants),” said Izzy Trejo.
As that study advances, one of the groups currently considering Clovis might change course. The chief development officer of Las Vegas, Nevada’s Full House LLC said as much in their July 27 letter of intent.
“Based on our research and analysis, we believe a new track in the Clovis area would provide the greatest benefits to New Mexico, and in particular to its horse racing industry,” wrote Alex Stolyar. “Therefore, we intend to apply for the license in or around the Clovis area. While we believe Clovis to be the best site, should the Racing Commission determine, through its feasibility studies, that an alternate location better serves the interests of the state (e.g. Tucumcari), we reserve the right to apply for a license at that location.”
Even better odds, then, for Tucumcari, Frost said.
“We're convinced that Tucumcari is the best location and we're going to prove it to the commission,” he added.
Two other suitors in Clovis are L&M Entertainment, one of the first to publicly state its interest in a racino on Clovis’ east side, and Clovis Racetrack and Casino, LLC, of which the majority owner is Shaun Hubbard.
Raton’s La Mesa Park, which previously defaulted on a racino option, was the object of two letters of intent: one dated July 24 from Stephen Vincent, Manager at Vinkay LLC out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and another dated July 27 on a La Mesa letterhead from Michael Moldenhauer.
Of the remaining two letters of intent, one came July 19 “from the City of Las Vegas and Las Vegas San Miguel Economic Development Corporation,” with the racino “in the city of Las Vegas working along with LVSMEDC to assist in the application process,” the latter’s executive director Michael Adams said in a letter.
Southwestern New Mexico has a horse in the race, too. Hidalgo Downs, LLC, out of Las Cruces, submitted its letter July 25 for a venue in Lordsburg, with its CEO boasting “a potential market base of over 9,000,000 residents in a 300-mile radius.”
Denis Floge said the project “enjoys the support of the vast majority of officials and residents” in Lordsburg and Hidalgo County.