The president of Churchill Downs Inc. said he believes recent developments with the makeup of the Kentucky General Assembly are positive and could help lead to legalization of video lottery terminals at racetracks in the state.
Indianapolis-based Centaur, which owns Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Anderson, Ind., recently missed interest payments and has defaulted on loans in excess of $400 million.
Delaware Park raced 27 fewer days this year but registered increases in total handle and average daily handle, track officials said Oct. 28.
The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering Oct. 27 approved Hialeah Park's application to hold a 40-day Quarter Horse meet beginning Nov. 28.
A plan by Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort to offer the statutory minimum of 210 racing dates but race only eight months instead of year-round has met with opposition from horsemen and others in the community.
California Thoroughbred racetracks, subject to regulatory approval, could increase pari-mutuel takeout -- return less money to bettors -- and change how the revenue is distributed under legislation signed into law Oct. 23 by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Republican Sen. Dan Kelly, a member of the Senate committee that killed racetrack gaming legislation during a special General Assembly session earlier this year, was appointed by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear as an 11th Judicial Circuit judge.
Churchill Downs and Kentucky horsemen have reached a three-year agreement that sets purse payments, establishes purse supplements and ends a legal dispute that began in the spring of 2008.
Charles Town Races & Slots said Oct. 22 it has broad support from Thoroughbred owners and breeders for a Dec. 5 referendum to authorize the West Virginia racetrack to add casino-style table games, but issues that divide management and horsemen remain.
Kentucky's horse racing and breeding industry plans to stand its ground in the wake of a proposal for a constitutional amendment on gaming some have characterized as a politically-motivated stall tactic.
Calder Race Course is preparing marketing plans for poker and a casino president and general manager Tom O'Donnell expects will attract a significant number of customers from some nearby pari-mutuel facilities and tribal casinos in southeast Florida.
Penn National Gaming Inc. officials Oct. 21 advocated their proposal for casino gambling in Ohio's four largest cities -- an issue that will be decided via referendum Nov. 3.
Jockeys' Guild national manager Terry Meyocks, formerly an executive with the New York Racing Association, will seek the Kentucky Senate seat currently held by Republican Alice Forgy Kerr in the November 2010 election.
A Kentucky Thoroughbred breeder said Republican lawmakers plan to push for a constitutional amendment on racetrack gaming, but a spokesperson for the state's Senate leader said that's not the case.
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.
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