Belterra Park, which opened for gaming and Thoroughbred racing in May, plans to reduce overnight purses by 20% according to its next condition book effective Aug. 30.
The former River Downs near Cincinnati has been lagging revenue-wise behind other racetracks in the state that also have video lottery terminals. Belterra Park is owned by Pinnacle Entertainment, which operates Belterra Resort & Casino in neighboring Indiana.
According to the Ohio Lottery Corp., which oversees operation of VLTs at racetracks, the net win from VLTs at Belterra Park in July was $4.22 million from an average number of 1,436 machines. In comparison, Miami Valley Gaming & Racing, the closest Ohio racetrack gaming facility to Belterra Park, had a net win of $10.9 million for July.
Elsewhere in the state, Hard Rock Rocksino at Northfield Park led the way with a net win of $15.7 million for the month, followed by Scioto Downs Racino at $11.7 million and ThistleDown Racino (formerly Thistledown) at $10.8 million. All the tracks in Ohio compete directly with at least one full casino and other racetrack casinos in state or out of state.
Belterra Park is required by Ohio law to have a purse agreement with the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association within six months of activation of VLTs, so the deadline is early November, a few weeks after the 2014 live meet ends. In the meantime the track is required to place 9% of VLT revenue in an Ohio State Racing Commission escrow account for purses.
Through 66 racing days this year purses at Belterra Park have averaged $82,105 per day according to The Jockey Club Information Systems; total purses paid was $5.41 million. In 2012, the last year a meet was run at River Downs, purses averaged $45,337 per day and totaled only $4.21 million for the full 93-day meet.
Under the planned purse reduction, an open maiden special weight event will go for $10,400 instead of $13,000. The purse for an open $4,000 claimer will drop to $6,400 from $8,000. Purses for the Ohio-bred stakes schedule aren't affected by the reduction.
The racing product figures to improve in 2015 when Belterra Park begins using its new turf course. It has the only turf course in Ohio.