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New Mexico Race Wagering

New Mexico permits pari-mutuel wagering on live and simulcast horse races. Each racetrack also has a casino offering slot machines.

The horse racing industry and pari-mutuel wagering are overseen by the New Mexico Horse Racing Commission (NMHRC). In addition to oversight, the NMHRC ensures compliance with the Horse Racing Act (HRA) through licensing and enforcement activities. The HRA, which was enacted in 1933, specifies that a race meet must be a minimum of 17 days, and the NMHRC approves the dates and duration of each race meet.

When the state renegotiated its gaming compacts with casino-operating tribes in 2007, it agreed to limit gambling competition by limiting racino licenses to six. There were five existing racino licensees, giving the state the option of granting one more license. But a sixth racino has yet to become a reality in New Mexico.

In June 2009, Canadian developer Michael Moldenhauer of Horse Racing at Raton LLC was awarded a gaming license contingent on completing the requisites to develop and operate his new property, La Mesa Racetrack and Casino. However, Moldenhauer failed to adequately finance the construction of the racing and gaming facilities by a May 2010 deadline and his gaming and racing licenses were revoked by New Mexico's Gaming Control Board and the NMHRC.

Coronado Partners, which is backed by a group of Albuquerque investors, also applied for the sixth license. The NMHRC has not voted on the license application and has given no indication as to when a vote might happen.

In the wake of an explosive 2012 New York Times exposé that claimed New Mexico had the worst record in the country for horse injuries and highlighted the suspensions of two New Mexico trainers who allegedly injected their horses with a powerful painkiller that allowed horses to run through injuries, causing major breakdowns and deaths, New Mexico passed two bills that required more rigorous regulations for the horse racing industry. The bills increased resources to the NMHRC for preventive and enforcement efforts against horse doping and prescribed harsher penalties for infractions. SB444 created a Racehorse Testing Fund and allotted one half of the "daily capital outlay tax" for the new fund. This 2.1875% tax is levied, by statute, on the daily gross wagered at a (Class A) licensed racetrack for live horse racing and at a (Class B) racetrack licensee conducting simulcasting.

The purpose of the fund is to ensure that racehorses are tested at a laboratory that meets national standards for testing of foreign substances not naturally occurring in a horse and to increase the number of horses tested both in and outside of competition. On the enforcement side, the NMHRC now has the authority to impose a maximum fine of either $100,000 or the total purse amount. The larger of the two is the maximum allowable fine.
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