Fulton hooks bequest

Sep 21, 2004 9:24 AM

Former Las Vegas gaming machine manufacturer Stan Fulton let the second shoe fall last week relative to his bequest of half his business interests to the New Mexico State University.

Fulton, 73, previously disclosed that as part of his will, drafted in 2001, he was leaving half his interest in the Sunland Racetrack and Casino to the university, a gift that has been valued in some quarters as upwards of $10 million annually.

However, when an Indian tribe and a private investor indicated they had plans to put a casino on a site very near the racetrack, Fulton took action. He told university officials that his gift would be revoked if the state approved and licensed the casino, or for that matter, any casino within 50 miles of the racetrack.

Bob Gallagher, president of the school’s board of regents, took a position that opposed the casino even before Fulton announced the possibility the bequest could be withdrawn. As for the recent news, Gallagher remarked, "To me, it’s plain and simple. If he (Fulton) feels like there’s been action taken against him that is detrimental to his financial health, then he absolutely deserves the right to revoke the gift to NMSU."

Meanwhile, the university president, Michael Martin, said he will not take a position relative to the Indian casino. "The casino is a public policy matter that needs to be decided on its merits. Obviously, it would be a great thing for us."

As an aside, Fulton, a major contributor to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, when he was a local resident, continued his New Mexico philanthropy by announcing a $1 million contribution to the Gadsden Independent School District in southern Dona Ana County and a $2 million donation to New Mexico State University for two endowed chairs.