Racino debate continues in Eastern New Mexico

Clovis could become home to a racetrack and casino if L&M Entertainment is issued the sixth and final state racino license.

According to their website, L&M Entertainment was formed to build and operate a state-of-the art race track and casino (Curry Downs currently operating in Ruidoso Downs).

“We began looking at this possible project back in 2014 solely as Laguna Development Corporation,” said Skip Sayre, chief of sales and marketing of Laguna Development Corporation. “And then, we decided to partner with Rob Miller, of Miller Companies, who has also been looking at Clovis for the ownership of the last racino license offered in the state of New Mexico.”

The state’s agreement with American Indian tribes with casinos provide for a maximum of six racinos, and five of these are already owned. There are four other prospective owners hoping to obtain the final racino license. Three of these are considering Clovis as a location.

According to the Curry Downs informational website, in 2015, a telephone survey was conducted in Curry County to gauge the level of support or opposition of residents for a racetrack and casino, and 60 percent of those surveyed supported the building of Curry Downs in Clovis. The survey also showed residents also think that the tax revenue and new jobs the racetrack and casino would bring to the area are the most important reasons to build the facility in Clovis.

“The New Mexico Racing Commission is conducting public presentations and public hearings as we speak,” said Sayre. “Two of these forums have already happened in Tucumcari and Lordsburg, and this Friday, there will be three presentations to the commission for a Clovis project regarding the racino. Following the presentations there is time for public questions or comments.”

But not everyone in the local area is happy to hear about the prospect of a racetrack and casino.

The Eastern New Mexico News reports that a group calling itself RaciNO is worried about negative social impacts that could come with gambling and gaming.

Walter Bradley, former New Mexico lieutenant governor, is involved with RaciNO, because he wants to see “quality family life” in Clovis, according to an Oct. 3 article by The News – a sentiment echoed by Jack Muse.

“We think that the studies that are done by people other than the gambling industry dictate that there is nothing family friendly about having casinos,” Muse said in the article.

The News also reported that Lonnie Leslie, chairman of the Curry County DWI Task Force, said studies show that 1 percent of people become addicted gamblers, and 20 percent of those people attempt suicide.

Sayre said his understanding is that Gov. Susana Martinez will select the recipient of the license by the end of the year.

“We are expecting to learn whether or not we will be successful in receiving the racino license by the end of 2018,” he said.

Published in the Eastern New Mexico News on Oct. 3:

L&M Entertainment

Laguna Development Corporation’s chief of sales and marketing told The News that they’ve been interested in the Clovis market since 2014, and have already created a partnership for their racino vision:

L&M Entertainment was formed as joint venture be- tween the Albuquerque enterprise and Illinois-based Miller Companies. With their financing already in place theyfeel like they’re in “a really good position” as-is.

“Recently, there’s been other folks that have expressed interest, but we’re the ones that have been down there for the long haul, put in the work, applied the time and money to build what we think is the best proposal for that mar- ket,” Skip Sayre said in a phone interview.

“We did an analysis of multiple markets in New Mex- ico, and we did the economic analysis, we did the market studies, we did the consumer interviews, and came to the conclusion that Clovis was the best market for this project based on its ability to nurture the horse-racing industry and generate good gaming revenue at the same time.”

Clovis Racetrack and Casino

Shaun Hubbard said he’s been involved with horse racing in New Mexico since his childhood, and for much of the last seven years was general manager at Ruidoso Downs. After his grandfather sold that racetrack last fall,he took some time away to his horse farm in Tularosa. When the state announced this spring it would accept racino license applications, his mind went to Clovis, which he’s considered “for at least over 10 years as a potential

race track site.”

“We’ve done analytics, we’ve done sight views, I’ve driven to them, I’ve talked to people — and each time I looked somewhere else I went back to Clovis. A lot of things point to Clovis,” he said in a phone interview.

“There’s a lot of economic factors for a lot of other applicants, but that’s easy to see. For me it was a heck of a lot more than that, and it had a lot to do with the heritage of Clovis and Curry County, and the gateway into New Mexico from an untapped resource of the state of Texas.”

As to potential collaboration, he said it’s not out of the question, but as a rule he was reluctant to get into a ven- ture with a group he doesn’t know well.

Hubbard said he was confident he could make a Clovisracino a bustling addition to New Mexico’s horse racing industry; he says it’s the third largest industry in the state after oil and gas, bringing an estimated three-quarters of a billion dollars annually.

“This goes overlooked, but we’ve got one of the most lucrative, untapped horse-racing destinations in the coun- try, and it’s only going to get better virtually overnight,” he said. “If I’m awarded the license, I know how to recruit the horses and horse racing.”

“Whoever gets it, they have to promote racing,” he said.

For more information on Curry Downs Racetrack and Casino, visit www.currydowns.com.

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