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

Outside groups weigh in on racino impact


November 4, 2018

Though it’s only Clovis, Tucumcari and Lordsburg that might host the state’s sixth racino, there are plenty of voices outside those communities that want their input known before the New Mexico Racing Commission makes its decision.

Most recent are two developments: first, the Lea County Commission urging NMRC to consider Tucumcari over Clovis as it says the latter could draw business from their Zia Park casino and racetrack in Hobbs.

“A new casino in Clovis will simply shift jobs and revenue from Lea County to our neighbors to the north, risk any new investment in our community, and result in an even more saturated casino market in the state’s southeastern region,” said the Lea County resolution passed Thursday. “Tucumcari has a strong need for economic development and is located on I-40, a short drive from the very large Amarillo market and the location of a gaming facility in this area would have less impact on the racing and gaming in Lea County.”

The possible internal diversion of gaming markets was also a concern early last month for the New Mexico Horsemen’s Association, though it reversed its position after public presentations from applicants that concluded Oct. 5 in Clovis.

NMHA’s executive director said last week it was “very simply, information” that caused the organization to change its position from opposing a sixth racino to instead supporting it.

“At the time that we were first looking at the situation, basically there was very little information,” Pat Bingham told The News. He said his main concern originally was with the lack of a feasibility study to demonstrate the viability of either of the lone projects proposed in Tucumcari and Lordsburg or any of the three proposed for Clovis.

After hearing presentations from those applicants and in anticipation of an independent feasibility study commissioned by NMRC, Bingham said he feels more confident.

“I personally attended each of those presentations, and I listened to the proponents and their proposals and everything else. At that point in time there was more substance,” he said. “It had to be an additive situation, rather than a shifting situation, and it had to be additive to the state coffers. ... It’s a simple thing of not necessarily transferring from one locale to another but actually adding to it.”

In essence, the horsemen association supports a new racino so long as studies say it will bring new money and new race days to the state, Bingham said.

“This is not just one locale versus another, not just one organization versus another. There’s a great desire, obviously, to get it right, because this is going to be it for time immemorial,” he told The News. “That’s the idea — to make it the best it possibly can be.”


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