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

Racino license applications open

 


The gates are open, and the race to a winning racino license now begins.

The New Mexico Racing Commission on Monday began accepting applications for the state’s sixth and final horse racing and casino license, a process expected to last at least through the summer.

Applications are due by July 30, and per statute will be subject to comment from the state’s Native American tribes as well as a town-hall style meeting in each community, NMRC Executive Director Izzy Trejo told The News.

Two groups, one in Clovis and one in Tucumcari, stated last week their intentions to apply for licenses to establish a horse racetrack and casino. Applications cost $5,000.

“I think we’re going to have a little action,” Trejo said, minutes before the application went online. He still declined to name specifics as to who might apply or what locations were being discussed, but said his office had received “a handful of inquiries already.”

Last week, Laguna Development Corporation’s chief of sales and marketing said the group planned to work with Miller Companies to form “L&M Entertainment” and apply for a license to build a racetrack at an unspecified property on Clovis’ east side.

“We believe New Mexico’s eastern region is a good market for racing, gaming, and hospitality enterprises,” Skip Sayre said in a release shared Saturday with The News. “We believe our collaboration can result in an exciting new enterprise, significant construction and long-term good-paying careers in the hospitality and horse racing industries that will benefit citizens in the city of Clovis, Curry County and New Mexico.”

Warren Frost said the Tucumcari/Quay County Economic Development Corporation has a similar vision, but for a race track and casino in Tucumcari. The Quay County Gaming Authority, which has since merged with the EDC, applied for the racino license in 2008 but lost to Raton. The Raton project eventually collapsed from lack of funds, but Frost said he hasn’t been able to visit the grocery story the past 10 years without someone reminding him of continued hopes for the racino license.

He said he was fully confident of financial backing for the project estimated at $75 million, which is expected to bring 330 full-time employees and 650 during racing season after the racino is completed in 2021. A temporary casino with 150 slot machines would ease the transition, with 600 machines ultimately. It was one of the best opportunities available to help revitalize a community dwindling in industry and population, Frost said.

“Ideally, we’d like for Apple to come in here and bring a thousand employees, but we’re trying to be realistic,” Frost said. “I’m proud of my little community, the way they’ve come out and supported this.”

 

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