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.
- By Tom LaMarra
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 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.
- By Tom LaMarra
The expansion of gaming at racetrack casinos doesn't always guarantee more money for purses and breed development programs, horsemen said July 2 during a sobering discussion that showed horse racing's challenge to stay relevant in a revenue-driven environment.
Ellis Park owner Ron Geary said June 24 it's too soon to say a commitment from the racing industry and legislators to fight for racetrack gaming will keep his track open beyond the 2009 season. Meanwhile, Turfway Park and the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association plan to sit down soon to devise a plan that could include reductions in purses and racing dates for future meets.
Republican Sen. Damon Thayer, under heavy fire from some in the Kentucky horse industry for not being publicly proactive on racetrack gaming legislation, on June 25 outlined his position on the issue and claimed that a "political war" would only hinder the industry.
About 1,000 members of Kentucky's horse industry turned out for a short-notice rally at Keeneland June 24 and were told by officials and state lawmakers the fight for racetrack gaming isn't over.
Having failed to get a law approved permitting racetrack casinos to offer electronic table games, New York Gov. David Paterson's Lottery Division is moving ahead with plans for the new gambling devices at the state's eight racetrack-based casinos. But a lawyer who has sued the state over past gambling expansions said the Paterson administration may be playing with legal fire.
The Kentucky horse industry, in the wake of the defeat of racetrack gaming legislation, is planning a rally at the Keeneland sale pavilion in Lexington at 6:30 p.m. EDT June 24.
A party-line vote in the Republican-heavy Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee June 22 killed legislation to authorize video lottery terminals at racetracks in Kentucky.
As Ohio racetracks are busy working on a plan for racetrack gaming, horsemen's groups are lobbying the state legislature to get behind Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland's proposal for video lottery terminals at tracks.
After debate of nearly four hours June 19, the Kentucky House of Representatives approved a bill permitting video lottery terminals at racetracks. The vote was 52 in favor, 45 opposed with two abstentions.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, in search of money to balance the state budget, on June 19 proposed putting racetrack video lottery terminals into the budget bill.
The Indiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said it was part of a discussion to assist racetracks by surrendering a portion of horsemen's revenue from slot machines but isn't a member of the coalition that issued a June 16 release to that effect.
Four horsemen's and breeders' organizations in Indiana said June 16 they will, over a three-year period, give racetracks a share of their revenue from slot machines to help stabilize the tracks.
Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino has announced a 10% purse increase for all overnight races effective June 13.
The Kentucky Equine Education Project is organizing a rally June 17 in the Capitol Rotunda to drum up support for legislation that would financially assist the horse industry.
Backstretch programs, racetrack gaming, and exclusionary practices are the primary topics for forums scheduled for the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association summer convention June 30-July 3 in Shepherdstown, W.V.
On the eve of the release of racetrack gaming legislation on the call for a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly, the state's top lawmakers debated the merits of the plan and indicated it won't be a slam dunk.
Hialeah Park will be back in business "as soon as possible" with plans to eventually add Thoroughbred racing, officials of the Florida racetrack said June 8.
Once again, the Texas legislature concluded its biannual session without passing a bill to legalize video lottery terminal at the state's racetracks. But the potential for a task force on the racing industry offers some hope for assistance.
Democratic Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced June 4 that racetrack gaming would be included in the special legislative session that will focus on the state budget.
- By Tom LaMarra
Though racetrack gaming wasn't put on the initial call for a June 15 special legislative session in Kentucky, the state's horse racing industry expressed confidence the issue will be on the agenda -- and pass.
Charles Town Races & Slots will offer purse incentives in certain races with seven or more starters effective June 6 in an effort to increase field size.
- By Tom LaMarra
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said May 29 he will call a special legislative session to deal with "the largest budget shortfall in modern Kentucky history," but stopped short of saying he will put racetrack gaming on the agenda.
The Delaware Supreme Court said a proposed sports-betting lottery doesn't conflict with the state constitution.
Kentucky racetrack operators said May 20 the state's horseracing and breeding industries have reached a critical juncture, and without legislative assistance in the form of on-track gaming, the damage could be irreparable.
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