Another showdown is brewing over whether Michigan racetracks should be allowed to open casinos in an effort to revive their struggling businesses. A group called Racing to Save Michigan wants voters to decide the issue in November 2010, and on Oct. 14, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers unanimously approved the form of a petition the group plans to circulate within the next six weeks.
- By Tom LaMarra
If the horseracing industry fails to make voluntary changes it has resisted for decades, the only things that may save it from doom are involuntary changes brought on by forces in the gambling and entertainment marketplace, officials said Oct. 13.
Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell has signed into law a budget for Pennsylvania that reduces the share of revenue horse racing gets from slot machines by about 17% over four years.
Pro-racetrack gaming forces in Ohio have taken a strong stand in opposition to a November referendum on full casino gambling in the state's four largest cities.
Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland Sept. 30 put his plan for racetrack video lottery terminals on hold indefinitely in light of a recent state Supreme Court ruling and a need to balance the state budget.
Penn National Gaming Inc., believed to be facing an uphill battle in the bidding wars to develop a video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct, has offered the cash-starved New York state government $250 million in a non-contingency, upfront payment for the exclusive contract and believes it's still in the hunt for the project.
Negotiators in New York have tentatively narrowed down the bidding list to three entities to run the long-delayed video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct, and a final decision could come as early as the week of Sept. 28.
Hialeah Park has filed applications for Quarter Horse racing dates, telling the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering it plans to run a 20-day meet late this year and another 20-day meet early in 2010.
Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland indicated Sept. 21 his administration is preparing to take the "next steps" in the wake of an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that says a statewide referendum is required before the state implements racetrack video lottery terminals.
Lane's End Farm general manager and prominent Republican Bill Farish said the Kentucky horse industry "will continue to hold our elected officials accountable, and we will not stop working until our state government gets out of the way and allows us to have the tools necessary to compete."
The Ohio Supreme Court Sept. 21 gave opponents of installing video lottery terminals at racetracks the chance to ask voters to repeal the plan.
A Delaware bankruptcy judge approved the sale of Magna Entertainment Corp.-owned Thistledown in Ohio to Harrah's Entertainment for $89.5 million and Remington Park in Oklahoma City for $80.25 million to a Chickasaw Nation subsidiary. An agreement also has been reached to sell Lone Star Park for $27 million.
Delaware has asked the full Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to revisit a decision made by a three-judge panel to authorize only limited sports betting at three racetracks in the state.
Kentucky Senate President David Williams has continued a war of words with leading Democrats over the politics surrounding proposed racetrack gaming in Kentucky. But Williams, a Republican, has also apparently drawn the ire of Kentucky's top GOP leader.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino has announced purse increase that has put purses about 20% higher than they were when its meet began July 30. Thus far, the Indiana track has paid about $30,000 more a day than Turfway Park in neighboring Kentucky.
Delaware Park and the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association have agreed to shave seven days from the track's 2009 racing schedule because of a decline in revenue from video lottery terminals. The change must be approved by the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission.
Sports betting launched at three Delaware racetracks Sept. 10, but officials are unsure how much revenue limited parlay wagering will generate.
Ellis Park, the western Kentucky racetrack that's on the fence for 2010, reported healthy gains in on-track business but a big drop in total handle after 20 days were cut from its 2009 meet.
The Ohio State Racing Commission has approved 2010 racing dates for two Thoroughbred tracks, but the facilities still have no agreement with horsemen on the schedules.
United States Sen. George Voinovich used biblical verse Sept. 3 to blast gambling proponents, including Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who is an ordained minister. Voinovich spoke while announcing a new lawsuit challenging implementation of racetrack video lottery terminals in the state.
A document submitted Sept. 1 suggests Penn National Gaming Inc. is underwriting an effort to overturn racetrack video lottery terminals legalized by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio legislature in July, but the Pennsylvania-based company said the information is false.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe of Florida signed a gaming compact Aug. 31 that has some significant changes from a gaming law Crist and the Florida legislature approved earlier this year.
Kentucky horsemen are hoping "light at the end of the tunnel" could help facilitate a contract for the upcoming Turfway Park meet.
Following the June demise of expanded gambling in the legislature, representatives of Kentucky's horse industry vowed to take a more aggressive role in statehouse campaigns. The industry's involvement in a special state Senate election in eastern Kentucky Aug. 25 is proving the threat wasn't hollow.
The Ohio State Racing Commission voted Aug. 20 to officially oppose a November referendum to authorize full casino gambling in the state's four largest cities.
The Ohio State Racing Commission Aug. 20 brought the grade II Ohio Derby back to the schedule this year by ordering a reduction of five live racing days at Thistledown, traditional host for the only graded stakes in the Buckeye State.
Five of seven Ohio racetracks failed to have their 2010 applications for dates approved because they don't have an agreement with horsemen or have other conflicts; several requested fewer racing dates than were scheduled for this year; and one facility indicated it wouldn't mind closing its barn area.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will raise purses 12% beginning Aug. 19, citing a "conservative approach" taken with the purse account when the meet began in late July.
With Ellis Park considering closing its doors, the Kentucky Equine Education Project is organizing a "Forever Ellis!" rally Aug. 22 at the racetrack as a way for horse industry enthusiasts to show their support for the nearly 90-year-old facility and the entire equine industry in the state.
MTR Gaming Group, which cut jobs and corporate expenses in the past year, released improved financial results for the second quarter of 2009 and said it's poised for growth in Ohio, where racetrack video lottery terminals have been authorized.
A reduction in stakes purses for its upcoming meet will allow Turfway Park to maintain overnight purses and racing days, but track officials are thinking ahead to 2010, when that probably won't be the case.
Penn National Gaming, Inc. said Aug. 6 it will request to hold a special December referendum for table games at Charles Town Races & Slots.
All-sources handle at Calder Race Course rose 48%, from $131.4 million to $195 million, during this year's second quarter, according to parent company Churchill Downs in a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. But Calder's handle for the quarter ended June 30 was 22% below its handle of $249 million for the second quarter of 2007.
- By Tom LaMarra
Wagering on racing in the United States continued its negative trend in July, with a 13.4% decline from the same month last year. Purses dropped 7.35%.
Speculation abounds in Ohio, where casino companies are examining racetracks for possible purchase and a deal on revenue from video lottery terminals for purses hasn't been hammered out.
After Michigan horsemen experienced a scare of losing half of their summer/fall meet at Pinnacle Race Course, negotiations were held among the Michigan Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and the Office of the Racing Commissioner to shave less than 10 days from the schedule.
The governor of West Virginia, on hand for the Aug. 1 West Virginia Derby (gr. II) at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, said gaming at tracks was built around racing, and the sport won't be allowed to suffer in exchange for company profits.
Penn National Gaming Inc. officials see upside to an expansion of gambling in Ohio, but said they have no idea how it will shake out.
A report from the Rutgers Equine Science Center details the economic impact of horse racing and breeding in New Jersey and says revenue from alternative gaming at racetracks has supported and fueled those programs in other states.
They tapped various talking points -- from higher purses and a beefed-up breeding industry to protecting green space and even family values -- but a group of Thoroughbred representatives have brought a singular message to state officials: Get the Aqueduct video lottery terminal casino off the ground.
This year's West Virginia Breeders Classics program at Charles Town Races & Slots will be worth a record $2 million, organizers said.
The future of Ellis Park beyond this year is questionable, but it appears the Kentucky racetrack's current meet has a good chance of being expanded.
A Republican Kentucky senator who chaired the committee that killed legislation to authorize video lottery terminals at the state's racetracks has been appointed as commissioner of the Kentucky Public Service Commission by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.
The Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association issued a statement July 16 confirming it will have to negotiate with racetracks for purse revenue from video lottery terminals.
The Pennsylvania horse racing and breeding industry is fighting proposed legislation that could take roughly $100 million from the Race Horse Development Fund and use it to help balance the state budget, which is billions of dollars short.
It appears Ohio racetracks and horsemen's groups will have to negotiate the percentage of revenue that will go toward purses and breed development from video lottery terminals.
Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland signed a directive July 13 instructing the director of the Ohio Lottery to immediately begin taking steps to implement video lottery terminals at the seven racetracks in Ohio. But questions remain as to how the racing and breeding industry will benefit.
Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland said July 10 he will sign an executive order authorizing video lottery terminals at Ohio's seven racetracks, but questions remain as to how much revenue -- if any -- purses and breed development will receive.
Video lottery terminals at the seven racetracks in Ohio may be authorized by an executive order from Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, a newspaper reported July 10.
Horsemen at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course will compete for $400,000 in overnight purses July 11 as part of a horsemen's appreciation program.
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