Educators probably will get involved in a proposal to permit a tribal casino to be built near Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino in western New Mexico. Actually, the "Casino" part of Sunland refers to the hundreds of slot machines whose revenues partly fund the track’s purse account.
So, it was expected that the New Mexico Horsemen’s Association would oppose the non-reservation casino proposed by the Jemez Pueblo Indians and art dealer Gerald Peters.
But, unexpected opposition will come from supporters of New Mexico State University, a school that has benefited greatly from the generosity of Stan Fulton, who acquired Sunland Park a few years ago as part of a deal that merged his company, Anchor Gaming, with International Game Technology (IGT).
In April, 2001, Fulton signed his will stipulating that half his stock and half the net profits at Sunland will go the University at the time of his death. Since the university stands to lose substantial monies should a tribal casino cut into its gaming operation, school officials said they will act individually to make their opposition known.
Bob Gallagher, president of the regents, said he had "reached my conclusion (regarding the proposed casino) and certainly will take action in response to my conclusion." Also opposed are two local legislators.
Before the casino plans can go forward, they must be approved by both Gov. Bill Richardson and Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
Before he relocated to New Mexico, Fulton was a major contributor to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.