NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico’s horse racing industry is asking the state for help. Racetracks have seen a steady decline in revenue and the number of races over the past decade and now industry leaders are meeting with state lawmakers to ask for a new gambling law.
“New Mexico horse racing does have a long history, woven in the fabric of our culture here,” said Izzy Trejo, the Executive Director of the Horse Racing Commission.
According to the New Mexico Horse Breeder’s Association, it’s the largest spectator sport in the state, bringing in about $400M to New Mexico’s economy each year. Since the mid-2000s, the number of races being hosted at the state’s five tracks has been dropping. There are plenty of reasons for the change.
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University of New Mexico Economic Professor Dr. Dave Dixon, says families now have a lot more options when it comes to entertainment. On top of that, Trejo says they’ve failed to keep up with the times. That’s why stakeholders are asking lawmakers to legalize advance deposit wagering in New Mexico. That would make it possible for bettors to make a wager online, from wherever they are, without having to go to the track. “To have the ability for our residents to bet on horses here in New Mexico, from the comfort of their own home, will be a huge advantage to everybody including purse money,” said Trejo.
States like New York, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma already allow it. Trejo says New Mexico bettors are now placing bets on races outside the state. “We’re losing wagering dollars because of that,” Trejo said.
While racing revenue is down, the state has seen a 43% increase in the sales of thoroughbred and quarter horses over the last year. The horse breeders association says the horse racing industry creates 10,000 jobs in New Mexico.