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Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino GM says he weighed virus concerns in shutdown decision

SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico -- New Mexico's decision to close racetracks and casinos across the state for three weeks has left the management of the Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino trying to handle the shut down.

Rick Baugh, Sunland Park's general manager, has had a lot on his plate - having to deal with the safety of his employees, the well being of his patrons and the economic impact on the track and casino itself.

"I understand totally, I hate it, I absolutely hate it. We canceled the best Sunland Derby card we ever had in the history of this race track," the Baugh said. "We're losing tons of money but we're keeping our employees whole. We're dipping into our kiddy and still paying those we laid off."

During the shutdown, Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino is replacing all the carpet throughout the facility.  Plus, they are using a new spray that chemically bonds to services in order to keep them extra clean.

"It's magnetically static charged. So when we disinfect slot machines.  Any hard surface it adheres to the chairs and slot bases to the product to disinfect" Baugh said.

He also wanted to let the public know what went into the decision to shut down, as it wasn't just the governor forcing him to do so.

"The governor called Saturday afternoon around 12:30.  Our conversation with the governor was that we need leadership at this time.  We need people to step up to be leaders and we are asking you take and make the hard decisions, one of which is we had to close.  We wanted to be apart of it, not only because of the customers but also for our employees. Like I've said, it's the we, not the me," he explained.

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Wil Herren

Wil Herren is an ABC-7 reporter who covers both news and sports.

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