Quay County Gaming Authority officials said they are fully aware of the added interest of a new developer and investor concerning the racetrack in Raton.
“We are on top of every development concerning the racino,” said Warren Frost, executive director of the Quay County Gaming Authority. “We are exploring every option along with the ramifications of Quay County’s efforts to bring horse racing to Tucumcari.”
Frost said the interest shown by Santa Fe art dealer Gerald "Jerry" Peters and Las Vegas-based developer Jim Franken is nothing new to him.
“We have been aware of their interest in the Raton racetrack for several months,” Frost said.
Franken has been the lead contractor for the planned La Mesa Racetrack and Casino, according to a report from the Albuquerque Journal. It has been reported Franken holds more than $500,000 in liens against the facility.
As of Nov. 30, more than $1.2 million in liens — the majority of which applies to Franken's claims — have been filed against the racino, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
A lien is one way a contractor can try to ensure payment for work, materials and services. The contractor can release the lien once payment is received or a settlement is reached, but the owner is unable to sell the property to which the lien is attached. None of the liens has been released, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Currently development at the Raton racino is at a stop. The site consists of little more than a temporary casino in a tent-like structure.
“At this time, the gaming license for La Mesa Racetrack and Casino has been revoked,” said the New Mexico Gaming Control Board’s Deputy Executive Director, Greg Saunders.
Saunders said La Mesa’s officials have appealed the revocation of the license. He said an appeal hearing has been set for Jan. 18, 2011.
“A hearing officer will review all the information then make a recommendation to the board,” Saunders said. “The board will then vote on the hearing officer’s recommendation.”
Saunders said the board’s decision to issue a gaming license in the future to any entity is contingent on the New Mexico Racing Commission issuing a racing license.
“Currently La Mesa still has a racing license,” said Racing Commission Deputy Director India Hatch.
Hatch said an outside hearing officer, which was requested by La Mesa’s attorney, will conduct a disciplinary hearing Dec. 21.
“The hearing is in regards to La Mesa not meeting their tentative racing schedule,” Hatch said. “They did not hold any races.”
Hatch said the hearing officer will make a recommendation to the racing board. The board will then decide on what action to take.
“We have made it clear to the racing commission that we intend to submit a new application to bring the track to Tucumcari,” Frost said. “Everyone in the horse racing industry knows we are going to submit that application the moment we can.”
Frost said the Quay County Gaming Authority still has the support of every involved entity and individual as they did when they initially applied for the racing license.
“Everyone is still vested and we still have the option on the land,” Frost said.