Horse racing in New Mexico is still in the ‘Dark Ages’

Albuquerque, NM (AP) – A relaxation of rules around online betting will help ensure the survival of the New Mexico horse racing industry as it faces intense competition for the interest of gamblers in the state and around the world, a senior racing official told a panel of state lawmakers. Thursday.

New Mexico law prohibits residents from betting on races held at any of the state’s five tracks, but they can bet on races in neighboring Texas, California, or any other state.

Track owners and horse breeders say this has led to a multi-million dollar revenue loss for the industry, which has seen its economic impacts — such as spending on feed, fuel and labor — diminish by about 25% in recent years. The decline of the industry was more severe in New Mexico than in other states, with fewer races and fewer horses being bred as well.

Of the five people who testified on Thursday, most were industry representatives.

Izzy Trejo, executive director of the Racing Commission, told lawmakers that horse racing has evolved beyond simple times when tracks relied on crowds attending in person to place their bets, and later via simulcast races.

“We used to be the king of the hill in the forties, fifties and sixties. That is no longer the case,” Trejo said. “There are no more golden goose eggs for racing horses. For now, we’re just going to be collecting crumbs to try and make the cookie complete with sports betting, online betting, and pre-deposit betting.”

Trejo said that in New York, about 91% of sports betting is done using a mobile device, and that number was slightly higher in Pennsylvania. He said the coronavirus pandemic has helped boost those numbers as more people choose to stream movies and bets from the comfort of their homes.

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