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.
Mid-State Raceway key investor Shawn Scott and board chairman Hoolae Paoa, president and chief executive officer of the company's Vernon Downs, Miracle Isle Gaming Resort, and Miracle Isle video gaming facility subsidiaries, have appealed a decision by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board to deny their requests for permanent licenses.
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.
New York media outlets have reported an indictment of the New York Racing Association on conspiracy, tax evasion, and fraud charges is expected, possibly as soon as Dec. 5. In an unusual deal, NYRA would be allowed to keep its franchise to operate Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga, according to the reports.
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.
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.
A group of Vernon Downs shareholders filed a lawsuit Nov. 20 seeking to gain control of the upstate New York Standardbred track from Las Vegas investor Shawn Scott.
A study that examines the impact of racinos on the racing product will be presented Dec. 9 at the second Racing & Gaming Summit in Tucson, Ariz., the day before the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing begins.
As West Virginia racinos consider a push for casino-style table games, questions loom. Would revenue from the games go to purses, and if so, how much?
A compromise proposal to put the issue of racetrack video lottery terminals before voters has been offered in the Ohio Senate, though it must pass the General Assembly by Dec. 3 if it is to make the ballot.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell isn't against having slot machines at locations other than racetracks, but he said if that's the case, it's imperative the tracks and the horse racing industry be protected.
The signs point to progress in Kentucky in terms of a bid for racetrack gaming in 2004, while in Pennsylvania, the horse industry is slowing the prospects for passage of legislation, officials said Nov. 11 during a panel discussion at Racino 2003 at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort.
The Thoroughbred industry will have to face the music and change its tune in the next few years if it is to flourish, trainer John Ward suggested during a lively discussion the evening of Nov. 4 at the monthly Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club meeting.
The Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has told regulators state laws favor the Standardbred industry to the point where Thoroughbred racing is unfairly paying millions of dollars at a time when it badly needs the money.
An effort to win approval for racetrack video lottery terminals failed Nov. 4 in Colorado, but in Maine, voters gave their approval for racetrack VLTs.
Video lottery terminals would be permitted at off-track betting facilities in New York under a plan being considered by state budget negotiators. The idea is being promoted to deal with another huge, multibillion-dollar budget looming over the next two years and a failure by racetracks to get VLTs up and running quickly enough to send revenue-sharing money to the state.
High-ranking New Jersey politicians and members of the horse racing industry will meet Nov. 12 in Trenton to discuss issues vital to the health of the racing and breeding industry, including the uncertain future of Monmouth Park and Meadowlands.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, whose 2002 campaign platform included an endorsement for racetrack gaming, will issue a "major policy speech" Nov. 12 at the closing session of Racino 2003 at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort in West Virginia.
Pennsylvania Sen. Robert "Tommy" Tomlinson, whose district includes Philadelphia Park in Bensalem, is planning to reintroduce a slot-machine bill as early as the week of Oct. 20, according to a report in the Bucks County Courier Times.
The Ohio Senate on Oct. 15 took a major step in approving video lottery terminals for the state's seven racetracks. The Senate, by 24-9 vote, approved a bill that would put the issue of VLTs before the public in the March 2, 2004 primary.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said a proposal to authorize video lottery terminals at racetracks is one possible way to help balance the state's budget.
Magna Entertainment Corp., which recently said it would rebuild Pimlico Race Course, said the project now hinges on whether the state's racetracks are approved for slot machines.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has declared voters must approve an amendment to the state constitution before any of the 10 licensed horse or Greyhound tracks in Texas can install video lottery terminals.
The euphoria after the Keeneland September yearling sale posted gains of almost 30% in gross and average apparently hasn't carried over to the Standardbred business. Numbers for the recent Tattersalls select yearling sale at The Red Mile in Lexington actually were fairly strong, but industry leaders indicated the storm clouds haven't blown away.
New York state comptroller Alan Hevesi, who believes the New York Racing Association is unwilling to reform operations, has called for the creation of an independent inspector general to monitor NYRA.
As the New York Racing Association sits on the video lottery terminal sidelines, others in New York are racing ahead with efforts to get the devices up and running, possibly by the end of the year.
Slot machines at Fair Grounds would generate $2 million to $3 million a year to supplement purses, according to figures released by state officials in Louisiana.
With a push for a constitutional amendment on expanded gambling looming in 2004, former Kentucky governor Brereton Jones said he would help fashion legislation to authorize full-scale casino gambling at racetracks.
Slot machines at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., appear to have impacted five riverboat casinos in the Shreveport/Bossier City market, according to July revenue reports filed with the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.
Bill Casner, co-owner of WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., called for support of video lottery terminals in Kentucky and the Thoroughbred Championship Tour while accepting the 2003 Industry Service Award at the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association's National Awards Dinner.
Ground was broken Aug. 13 on the "Miracle Isle" gaming facility at Vernon Downs, which intends to become the first New York racetrack to have video lottery terminals in operation.
Kentucky Derby-winning trainer John Ward has called some of the recent attacks on the embattled New York Racing Association "essentially a political assassination campaign" linked to development of video lottery terminals at racetracks in the state.
A construction program that began 2 1/2 weeks ago to install video lottery terminals at Aqueduct racetrack in New York has been halted because of the ongoing criminal investigation of the New York Racing Association.
Slot machine exclusivity at New York racetracks may be short-lived, two legislators from the Empire State said on Tuesday during an afternoon session of the Saratoga Institute on Racing and Wagering Law.
California Indians will fight any effort to expand gaming at state racetracks, said the executive director of the association that oversees tribal casinos.
Boyd Gaming announced plans July 30 for a $50-million expansion at Delta Downs in Vinton, La. In a conference call on Boyd's second-quarter earnings, the company said Delta Downs, which has slot machines, has become of its "best performers."
The Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Senate returned to a brief session July 28 but didn't consider racetrack slots legislation. It previously had buried a bill passed by the House, and it had predicted it would be after Labor Day before it considers the topic again.
In a case closely watched by the racing industry, a New York judge today upheld legislation permitting racetracks in New York to offer video lottery terminals.
Instant Racing, launched in Arkansas three years ago, was approved for use at pari-mutuel facilities by the Wyoming Racing Commission July 11. The devices, which resemble video lottery terminals but are linked to pari-mutuel pools, will first be installed at an off-track betting parlor operated by Wyoming Downs.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has proposed that racetrack slot machines produce $1 billion in revenue, way up from the $400 million projected for this fiscal year in legislation approved by the state Senate.
The Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has submitted an application for a license for a Thoroughbred racetrack that would be built in the Lehigh Valley. If approved, daily purses would eventually average $1 million a day under a plan whereby all profits from slot machines would go back to horsemen.
The Pennsylvania Senate, on a 27-22 vote the evening of June 25, approved legislation to authorize racetrack slot machines. Now, the measure goes to the House of Representatives.
The issue of video lottery terminals at Ohio's racetracks died in the state Senate June 25.
The Pennsylvania Senate could vote today, June 25, on legislation to allow slot machines at racetracks. The plan needs 26 votes to pass, and if it does, it will be sent to the House of Representatives.
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