Eric Nelson, the current operator of Playfair Race Course, has apparently shut down simulcasting at the track near Spokane, Wash., for two weeks. According to a story in Wednesday's local paper, the Spokesman-Review
, Nelson said it's a "cooling off period."
Nelson, who could not be reached for comment, met with the board of the local horsemen's group on Monday. Jan Bosequette, president of the Inland Northwest HBPA/Organization for Preservation of Horse Racing in the Northwest (INHBPA/OPHRN), said he asked that they change the conditions of the one-year contract he signed on Jan. 2.
"I don't know who's cooling off," said Bosequette. "We met with him and he wanted to drastically change our contract. He wants all the live online handle, of which we're scheduled to get 5%, and he wants any money we make selling the signal. He also wants concessions from the landowner because his insurance costs were greater than expected. At our meeting, we told him we thought he needed to live by the contract."
Last year Nelson signed a 10-year lease agreement with Jack Pring, who owns the Playfair property.
"The handle is going down, down, down--we've been concerned about handle--but that takes some advertising and he's only had a couple of ads in the paper," said Bosequette. "He's not doing his part to keep the handle up either. Naturally, we're not pleased, because when he closed down simulcasting, he's not generating any money."
In April Nelson threatened to cancel Playfair's 2003 live racing season because of a proposed state tax increase. Nelson also asked the racing commission to let him offer full-card simulcasting at another site other than Playfair. Washington statutes require any full-card simulcasting facility to offer live racing.
Bosequette also said Nelson is behind in money owed to her organization. Part the contract stipulated he pay $5,000 per month for that group's offices and operations. Since February the group has received just $5,000.