As the Maryland General Assembly lurched into the final week of its 2004 law-making session, the future of slot machines in the state remained in the unpredictable grip of politics and, seemingly, outside the control of anyone in the horse industry.
The Kentucky racing industry's next chance to win approval for a constitutional amendment on racetrack casinos will come in 2006, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association said in a letter to members.
Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich made a personal appeal to members of a House committee Tuesday for approval of his slot machine bill. Before the meeting Ehrlich attended a pro-slots rally at the Capitol conducted by members of the state's horse industry.
The final season of racing at 38-year-old Evangeline Downs kicks off the evening of April 1 with a 100% increase in daily average purses and a regular fan appreciation nights.
A member of the state Senate committee considering legislation that would allow video lottery terminals at Michigan racetracks predicted the week of March 22 that the bill would be voted out of committee and passed by the Senate this spring.
Vernon Downs, an upstate New York Standardbred track, was licensed March 22 by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board on the condition a third party oversees racing operations.
The slot-machine parlor at the Delta Downs Racetrack & Casino reigns as the most profitable racino in Louisiana, having generated more than $33 million in purse money the past two years, according to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. In all, three racinos have produced more than $40 million for horsemen.
An informational meeting on a racing-backed slots initiative that could add as much as $300 million a year to purses in California drew only a handful of horsemen at Santa Anita Friday morning.
The Maryland Jockey Club March 12 will begin broadcasting television advertisements designed to promote horse racing and the importance of racing and breeding to the Maryland economy.
Average purses will double at Evangeline Downs this season if the first condition book for the meet is any indication.
Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry signed a bill Monday that allows electronic gaming machines at three racetracks in the state. A bill-signing ceremony was scheduled for Tuesday.
Disagreement between the horse racing industry and a legislator has put casino legislation in Kentucky in a tenuous position for the current session.
A $50-million expansion of the Delta Downs Racetrack & Casino is well under way with completion expected by the end of 2004. The project includes a hotel and a bigger parlor for slot machines.
Instant Racing, which combines pari-mutuel wagering with video gaming technology, had its best month ever at Oaklawn Park when patrons poured $5.82 million through the machines in February.
The gaming room at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, which opened Jan. 28, handled $82 million and provided net earnings of $6.3 million through March 1.
Legislation to authorize a constitutional amendment on casino gambling at nine locations--five of them racetracks--in Kentucky was filed Feb. 27 in the state House of Representatives. A companion bill was filed in the Senate.
State regulators have denied a 2004 racing application for troubled Vernon Downs, a Standardbred racetrack in central New York. The Feb. 27 ruling by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board prohibits racing at the facility and keeps shuttered a recently completed video lottery terminal casino.
Prairie Meadows and two Greyhound tracks will be permitted to offer table games under Iowa legislation that bans new gaming licenses in counties where they aren't currently in place.
A Louisville legislator is prepared to file a bill to authorize a constitutional amendment on casino gambling in Kentucky under a scenario in which gaming wouldn't be limited to racetracks.
The Oklahoma House's top Republican vowed Thursday to defeat Senate-passed gaming legislation supported by Democratic Gov. Brad Henry, calling it a "money-losing proposition" for the state.
Patrons waited more than two hours to enter Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack Feb. 18 for the opening of the track's video lottery terminal parlor. The scene was reminiscent of one that played out a few weeks earlier when Saratoga Gaming and Raceway became New York's first operating racino.
Finger Lakes in upstate New York will open its video lottery terminal parlor Feb. 18 to become the second racino to begin operation in the past month under a 2001 state law.
Maine's Harness Racing Commission voted Tuesday to give Penn National Gaming Inc. the go-ahead to operate Bangor Raceway, bringing slot machines a step closer to reality at the state's commercial tracks.
New York state has no choice but to give the New York Racing Association an extension of its franchise if it wants to get video lottery terminals operating at Aqueduct, NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz said.
Efforts to bring 5,000 electronic pull-tab machines to Hoosier Park, Indiana Downs and two simulcast wagering facilities were defeated Feb. 12 in the Indiana General Assembly.
Racetracks in New York would be permitted to have full Las Vegas-style casinos under new state legislation that also calls for a constitutional amendment to permit non-Indian casinos in the Catskills and Western New York.
Officials representing the Kentucky horse industry agreed Wednesday to proposed alternative gaming legislation that would put casinos at four racetracks and four other non-racetrack facilities in the state.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, at a Jan. 27 news conference, said he was tired of the legislature's inability to pass a gambling bill and was fashioning his own bill to authorize slot machines at 12 locations in the state.
Just a month before he proposed a dramatic expansion of gambling with video lottery terminals across the state, New York Gov. George Pataki told a state appeals court the devices would be limited to racetracks under a 2001 law.
A bill that would allow electronic pull-tab machines at Indiana racetracks and two satellite wagering facilities crossed a second hurdle Jan. 21. The House Ways and Means committee approved the legislation by a 17-10 vote and sent it along for consideration by the full House.
Under a plan being considered by the New Jersey legislature, the governor's office, and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, Thoroughbred and Standardbred purses could be supplemented by revenue from Atlantic City casinos, possibly this year.
Indian tribes, the horse racing industry, and Gov. Brad Henry have reached an agreement on legislation that would allow racetracks to install gaming machines and regulate devices currently operating at tribal casinos. The measure now goes to the state legislature.
Racing is making significant strides in a number of important areas, but needs legislative assistance in others, a representative of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association told a panel of legislators from gaming states Friday during a meeting in Las Vegas.
The dispute between horsemen and management at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort escalated Jan. 5 when both parties accused the other of negotiating in bad faith.
Though the prospects for expanding gambling in Kentucky remain clouded, the racing and breeding industry has settled on a plan for a constitutional amendment to authorize full-scale casino gambling at the state's eight racetracks.
Licensing problems have delayed, for possibly well into 2004, the opening of Vernon Downs, which was to become the first racetrack in New York with video lottery terminals. That honor will now go to Saratoga Raceway, which is scheduled to open its VLT operation in mid-January.
The slot machines parlor at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La., opened Dec. 19 even though the facility won't offer live horse racing until 2005. The 2004 meet will be held at the existing Evangeline Downs in Carencro, about 10 miles south of the new site.
Fraser Downs, a British Columbia Standardbred track located not far from Hastings Park, received approval Dec. 16 to install slot machines. The Surrey City Council will schedule a fourth reading on the measure and approve final documents in a few weeks, the track said in a press release.
The Pennsylvania legislature may be close to passing both a budget and slot machine legislation, perhaps by the end of the week of Dec. 15.
The $1-million Delta Jackpot Dec. 5 at Delta Downs generated so much exposure and money for the racetrack that it will return next year, said general manager Jack Bernsmeier, who would like to see similar big-money races at all Louisiana tracks.
Jean Major said he can't argue with the benefits of racetrack slot machines in Ontario, Canada. But he indicated there are two sides to every story, and suggested some procedures to ensure substantive growth in the horse racing industry.
Hastings Park officials were hopeful slot machines could be installed at the racetrack sometime next summer. However, after a Vancouver city council vote on Tuesday night, installing slots at the racetrack is still on hold.
A Kentucky legislator has pre-filed several bills for the 2004 General Assembly session, including one that would authorize electronic gaming devices at racetracks, and another that calls for a constitutional amendment on the subject.
Issues related to the loss of tax dollars from Internet wagering will come into focus when state legislators from across the country meet in Las Vegas to focus on public policy questions related to Internet, casino, and other forms of gaming. The occasion will be the 2004 Winter Meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) at Harrah's Las Vegas on the January 9-11 weekend.
Hastings Park recently concluded its 2004 meet with a minor dip in on-track handle figures, and an 8.5% drop in all-source handle.
Legislation to put the issue of racetrack video lottery terminals on the ballot in March 2004 has been killed in the Ohio General Assembly, a lobbyist said Dec. 2, the deadline to get the measure passed.
Operators of racetracks with gaming devices continue to look for ways to drive pari-mutuel handle, but they admit converting slots players to handicappers is a long-term challenge.
Voters in Romulus, Mich., will decide Dec. 2 whether to allow for gambling establishments, one of which is a multi-breed racetrack proposed by Magna Entertainment Corp.
Legislators continue to work on a compromise on racetrack video lottery terminals as a deadline nears to get the measure on the March 2, 2004 ballot in Ohio.
Major privately-owned California racetracks and card clubs have thrown down the gauntlet in their bid to potentially break Indian tribes' monopoly over operation of slot machines in the state.
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