A backstretch improvement program has begun at Hollywood Casino at Penn National, which will spend up to $10 million over the next 10 years to build new barns, refurbish old ones, and make other barn-area upgrades.
Though it has no regulatory oversight of equine health and safety, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has adopted a resolution saying it supports the state's efforts to "invest in horse health and welfare."
A Magna Entertainment Corp. executive said the company has no plans to sell either of its Maryland racetracks but indicated the results of a statewide November referendum on slot machines could play a role in any decision.
As horseracing interests lobby for slot machines in Illinois, two former state legislators have floated a $31-billion infrastructure plan that would be paid in part by expanded gambling in the state.
The Maryland racing industry is throwing its support behind a campaign for slot machines, but it remains to be seen whether any racetracks would get the gambling devices should the public approve a statewide ballot measure in November.
Indiana Downs enjoyed a promising start to its 54-day Thoroughbred meet April 25-26, with large crowds and strong wagering. Indiana Downs will offer racing through July 8.
The Delaware Certified Thoroughbred Program, formed earlier in the decade to preserve farmland and offer incentives for horses domiciled in the state, now has almost 1,300 registered Thoroughbreds, according to the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.
The Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has given the new national Thoroughbred Horsemen's Group authority to negotiate terms with advance deposit wagering companies for betting on races at South Florida Thoroughbred racetracks. Also, Florida horsemen want an agreement on slots revenue with Calder before any contracts are signed.
As Calder Race Course prepares to open its 2008 meet April 21, the question of how to divide any future slot-machine revenue is holding up contract talks between the Miami Gardens, Fla., track and the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protection Association.
Lonny Powell, most recently an executive with Youbet.com, is helping a group identify and examine potential racetrack purchases.
The chairman of the Kentucky Equine Education Project said the organization is "disappointed" not only in the failure of legislation calling for a constitutional amendment on casino gambling, but also with the way the measure was handled from the beginning of this year's General Assembly session.
The Ohio horseracing and breeding industry always seems to be at a crossroads. With 2008 almost three months old, negative trends continue and near-term relief isn't in sight.
The Florida Senate approved March 13 two slot-machine bills that would help the state's Thoroughbred racetracks and other pari-mutuel facilities. However, there is considerable opposition to the bills in the Florida House of Representatives, and the influential Seminole Tribe of Florida is expressing concerns about the legislation.
Steroids, new emergency rules for horse racing, and updates on racetrack casino construction at Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs dominated the discussion during the March 11 Indiana Horse Racing Commission meeting.
The financial health of Magna Entertainment Corp. could become part of the debate about legalizing slot machines in Maryland, as supporters and detractors ready for a statewide referendum in November.
With a contentious proposal to legalize casinos stalled in the House, a lawmaker is floating a compromise measure that would allow only slot machines and video poker at Kentucky racetracks.
Atlantic City casinos have agreed to boost financial help for New Jersey's racetracks, but officials said long-term funding issues remain.
Two bills that would help Thoroughbred racetracks, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co., and the state's other pari-mutuel facilities will be on the calendar when the Florida legislature begins its annual two-month session March 4.
Hoosier Park owner Centaur received approval Feb. 25 to purchase the 110 acres of land on which the Anderson, Ind., racetrack sits.
After a Kentucky constitutional amendment calling for nine casino licenses passed out of committee Feb. 27, it was unclear whether the horse industry would continue to support the legislation. But indications lawmakers and Gov. Steve Beshear would look out for the industry led the Kentucky Equine Education Project to support the bill.
Pennsylvania probably won't become a leader in terms of number of Thoroughbred foals bred each year, but its breeding program figures to give programs in the rest of the United States a serious run for their money.
An executive with experience working at racetrack casinos said Feb. 25 that even though slot machines are the revenue driver, horse racing has value and can have even more if gaming and racing factions work together.
In an attempt to recruit people to support the proposed constitutional amendment for expanded gaming, the Kentucky Equine Education Project urged its members to attend a Feb. 26 committee meeting hearing for the bill, as well as a horse trailer caravan "rally" the same day in Frankfort.
The "Smarty slots" in Pennsylvania have been jingling for more than a year. In Kentucky, where the racing industry views Pennsylvania as a major threat, casino legislation broke from the gate in a tangle yet again this year.
Isle Racing & Casino at Pompano Park is delaying a decision on possible cancellation of some March and April racing dates.
Action on recommended revisions to a constitutional amendment to authorize a vote on casino gambling in Kentucky will wait until the week of Feb. 24.
Isle Racing & Casino at Pompano Park will cut race purses about 35% starting Feb. 22, and will not hold harness racing on Monday and Wednesday nights during most of March and April.
A legislative subcommittee studying expanded gambling in Kentucky has recommended a revised constitutional amendment that reduces the number of casinos permitted in the state to nine, requires local approval of some sort for all casinos, and removes dedicated percentages for gaming revenue.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear unveiled legislation Feb. 14 calling for a constitutional amendment to allow for up to 12 casinos--seven at racetracks and five at non-racetrack locations.
Gulfstream Park's $75,000 Shotintheheart Handicap Feb. 14 will be the first of as many as four Florida-bred stakes it will add this season.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National opened on time Feb. 12 with bells and whistles--and with a rousing alarm and taped recording telling everyone to vacate the building.
Two Florida Senate leaders are sponsoring separate gaming bills, with goals that include increased revenue for the state's three Thoroughbred tracks and for the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. As with previous years' gaming proposals in Florida, the bills face opposition from gambling opponents in the legislature.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National will open its slot machines to the public Feb. 12, but live Thoroughbred racing will have to wait at least another day.
Trainer Steve Asmussen will have a division at Woodbine for the first time when the Toronto-area track opens its 167-day meet April 5.
The integrated gaming and racing facility has scheduled "test nights" for Feb. 8 and Feb. 10. Test nights are regularly held at casinos to ensure that all equipment is operating properly.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has promised to add keno games to the Ohio Lottery to make up for a projected budget shortfall at the end of this fiscal year on June 30.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear again has called for the state General Assembly to approve legislation allowing a referendum on casino gambling, but details of the legislation still haven't been released.
Voters in Miami-Dade County, Fla., approved slot machines for Calder Race Course and the county's two other pari-mutuel facilities in a Jan. 29 referendum. They passed the ballot issue by a 63%-37% margin--a decisive victory in a race many observers expected would be close.
Delaware Park could conduct no less than 135 days of Thoroughbred racing each year under legislation introduced in the state General Assembly.
A Pennsylvania regulator said progress is being made in attempts to educate legislators and make sure horse racing gets its due as gaming parlors continue to open around the state, but much remains to be done.
Calder Race Course president Ken Dunn expects "a tough race" during the last days before Miami-Dade County's Jan. 29 vote on slot machines for Calder and two other pari-mutuel facilities.
The racing industry in California is split on referendums that would allow Indian tribes to add thousands of slot machines to their casinos.
To continue dialogue on why Kentucky needs expanded gaming, and to further educate the General Assembly on the matter, Kentucky Equine Education Project executive director Patrick Neely recently gave a presentation during a special legislative subcommittee meeting in Frankfort, the state capital.
Delays in a purse supplement or other forms of financial relief from the state have led New Jersey's harness racing industry to brace for serious purse reductions.
As reports have surfaced that Birmingham Race Course in Alabama may again seek to install electronic bingo games, the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association will take yet another look at the status of the Alabama HBPA, which continues to say a return of live Thoroughbred racing to Birmingham is possible.
The board of directors of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario has unanimously approved the extension of its current contract with Woodbine Entertainment Group for an additional three years, the organization announced Jan. 18.
Details on legislation to authorize casino gambling in Kentucky will have to wait for another day.
On-track handle at Calder Race Course fell 24% during the 2007 portion of its Tropical meet, according to data obtained from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Calder's simulcast handle fell 26% compared with the same period in 2006.
Colonial Downs in Virginia is on the market because of its inability to add other forms of gambling, track owner Jacobs Entertainment said in a Jan. 11 notice.
Gaming expansion, including authorization for slot machines at racetracks, appears to have been left at the starting gate once again in the Illinois General Assembly.
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