New Mexico Commission Awards Racing Track Casino License to the Downs at Santa Fe
On August 25th, 2008, the New Mexico Racing Commission awarded the state's last non-tribal racing track casino license to Racing at Baton, rejecting application for racing tracks in Tucumcari and at the Downs at Santa Fe. Commission Chairman Arnold Rael commented that the Raton plan best serve the needs of the horse racing industry. The developers offered to have a sixty-day race season and construct 1,500 stall. The track developers also said that they will draw from a 5 state area.
Rael compared that to the Tucumcari project by Coronado Partners, who stated they would draw mainly from Texas and New Mexico. Commissioner Thomas Fowler commented that he supported Raton because the management of the state's other racing tracks submitted letters of support for re-starting racing in the northern area of the New Mexico town.
Racing at Raton, the collaboration that applied for the license, estimated its project would create three hundred permanent jobs, more than $7 million in yearly payroll and about $13.3 million in yearly tax revenues for the state. The plan by the Pueblo of Pojoaque to re-open the Downs at Santa Fe was dismissed because Commissioner Ray Wilis said that it would violate a state law that requires racing tracks within eighty miles of each other to have agreements in place to make sure simulcast racing can take place at one track while live racing is going on the other racing track.
The Downs at Albuquerque submitted a letter in July saying that there was no agreement in place and it was not willing to make such agreement. The Commission gave all applicants one final chance to defend their applications. Don Chalmers, who is leading the team to make a track at Tucumcari, reiterated the pros of his project. He said that the racing track will help boost the economy of the area especially with its earnings from its slot machines aside from racing.