The Latest: Lawyers criticize ‘secret’ deal in racino case
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on a legal dispute regarding New Mexico’s final racino license (all times local):
More questions are being raised about a lack of transparency and conflicts of interest as New Mexico stumbles through a process that will decide who wins a lucrative license to operate the state’s sixth and final horse racetrack and casino.
A state district judge on Thursday instructed attorneys for the enterprises vying for the license to weigh in on a motion to dismiss a legal challenge over a study done as part of the selection process.
The lawyers have argued that the study was flawed.
Also at issue is a proposed settlement to resolve the challenge. Some attorneys told the judge it appeared to been negotiated in secret by Hidalgo Downs, the state attorney general’s office and the chair of the state racing commission.
The attorneys say it’s possible that open meeting laws were violated.
It will be up to a state district judge whether to accept a proposed settlement that will clear the way for regulators to make a decision on New Mexico’s sixth and final license for a horse racetrack and casino.
A hearing is scheduled Thursday in Albuquerque.
The state attorney general’s office confirmed late Wednesday that an agreement had been brokered between the state racing commission and Hidalgo Downs LLC, which proposes building a racino in southwestern New Mexico.
The company was concerned about recommendations outlined in an independent feasibility study done for the commission last fall. The company argued that not enough was done to study the issue.
Under the proposed resolution, the commission would agree to “fully and fairly” assess all candidates — without considering the previous recommendations — before awarding the lucrative license.