Clock Ticks on VLT Revenue Deals in Ohio
by Tom LaMarra
Date Posted: 11/21/2013 8:41:57 PM
Last Updated: 11/22/2013 9:23:19 AM

VLTs at Scioto Downs
Photo: Courtesy Scioto Downs

Time is running out for Ohio racetracks and horsemen's groups to agree on the percentage of video lottery terminal revenue that will go to purses and breed development programs.

The only sure thing–because it's contained in a 2012 casino clean-up law–is the amount will be no less than 9% and no more than 11%.

The Ohio State Racing Commission met Nov. 21 to discuss 2014 racing dates and noted it will entertain VLT revenue agreements at its Dec. 19 meeting. If tracks and horsemen don't strike deals, the OSRC by law must set the percentage for them, presumably by the end of the year.

So far only two of seven tracks–ThistleDown Racino, formerly known as Thistledown, and Scioto Downs Racino–have operating VLTs. In light of having no VLT deal with horsemen, the minimum of 9% is being paid to purses at both racetracks.

The OSRC Nov. 21 approved 2014 racing dates for three more tracks: Belterra Park, previously known as River Downs; Miami Valley Gaming and Racing, a new facility that purchased the racing licenses of Lebanon Raceway; and Northfield Park.

Belterra Park was granted its request to race 100 days plus two Quarter Horse dates from May 8-Oct. 19. As expected the Cincinnati-area track has asked to host the Best of Ohio championship series in October; the OSRC said it may name the host track at its next meeting.

Scioto Downs and Beulah Park, which eventually will move to the Youngstown area and be called Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course, remain without dates approval because of a lack of agreements with horsemen.

Penn National Gaming Inc. has submitted requests for dates at Beulah Park in the winter and spring, and Mahoning Valley for the fall and winter of 2014. The OSRC, however, is concerned about a dispute between PNGI and the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association over the number of stalls at the under-construction racetrack.

PNGI has proposed to build 760 stalls, but the Ohio HBPA wants no less than 1,000–roughly the same number of stalls at Belterra Park and ThistleDown Racino.

Meanwhile, Miami Valley Gaming and Racing and Northfield Park both expect to open their VLT parlors in December.



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