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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- By Tom Precious
Officials in New York recognize they will not be getting the upfront payment money for the Aqueduct casino franchise they had been expecting before the economy turned sour, according to the head of the Senate's racing committee.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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