The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By David Grieder
Staff writer 

Race is on - again - for racino

Clovis, Tucumcari expected to file license applications.

 


CLOVIS — As the state starts accepting applications for its sixth racino license, eastern New Mexico is poised to have at least two horses in the race.

Projects proposed for Tucumcari and Clovis will be among those competing for the state’s last available racino license, with a timeline to be announced Monday and an award selection expected by the end of 2018.

New Mexico Racing Commission Executive Director Izzy Trejo said the decision to solicit new applications came out of recent interest from “a handful of different entities,” though he declined to get into specifics.

“There’s been a lot of interest,” he said on Friday, noting it was still “a tough thing to gauge” until applications actually arrive.

On Clovis’ east side, Laguna Development Corp. and Miller Companies have joint designs for the “Curry Downs Racetrack and Casino.”

Plans are described in a website established three years ago, after LDC completed a market study finding the location to have “a high probability for success,” according to its chief of sales and marketing.

“According to the market study at that time, there’s a real desire amongst a good percentage of the population that live there for some other types of entertainment, whether it’s horse racing, off-track betting, restaurants, casino, or a lounge of some kind,” Skip Sayre told The News. “And a high percentage of business would come out of Texas.”

Warren Frost represents the Quay County Gaming Authority, a group promoting a race track for the area for more than a decade. Frost’s group applied for a racino license in 2008, but lost out to Raton, although that project folded from lack of finances. The QCGA has since combined with the Tucumcari/Quay County Economic Development Corporation, also representing San Jon and Logan.

“(B)asically the last eight years, we’ve been hoping that the Racing Commission would make a determination to open this up again,” Frost said last week. “Now that they’ve done that we’re excited and ready to go.”

Quay County’s vision is for a racetrack and casino on a location by Interstate 40 and Route 66.

“The only place (another New Mexico) track makes sense is along the Texas border,” Frost said. “So we’re certainly optimistic. We think the only competition we’re going to have is Clovis.”

Both Sayre and Frost said they were confident of the financing for their projects, a concern stressed by Trejo after the collapse of the Raton project from lack of funds.

Whatever entity is awarded, the ensuing racetrack would be subject to an annual review and required to conduct at least 17 days of racing annually.

Frost said the new license is “going to be a great economic boon for the state regardless of where it goes,” and estimated that “over the last 10 years the state has been losing at least $10 million a year in revenue sharing,” from the lack of a sixth active racino license.

Even so, he emphasized its particular advantage for a smaller community.

“Tucumcari really needs some kind of economic development,” he said.

Sayre declined to name any of the stakeholders in the Clovis land being considered by LDC or to describe its specific location. But state Rep. Randal Crowder said he has a stake of less than 50 percent in a property at Seventh and Norris streets, which LDC had previously confirmed was a potential site for a racino.

Crowder acknowledged he might get a percentage of revenue generated from the land, but said he had no interest in seeing it turned into a racetrack.

“I’d be real sad (if that happened.) I don’t believe that there’s a net benefit to a community from that,” Crowder said. “I believe that the negatives that come along with gambling and racetracks outweigh the good.”

 

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