ThistleDown Racino

ThistleDown Racino

Courtesy of Thistledown

Two Ohio Tracks to Get 10.5% of VLT Revenue

The figure pertains to ThistleDown Racino and under-construction Mahoning Valley.

Two Ohio racetracks will pay 10.5% of video lottery terminal revenue to purses, an official with the state's racing and breeding programs said April 5.

The VLT split was negotiated by the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the Ohio Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners, both of which are headed by Tim Hamm. The percentage is part of a larger contract between the Ohio HBPA and two tracks, ThistleDown Racino (Thistledown) and the under-construction Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course, which will replace Beulah Park.

The VLT revenue percentage previously hadn't been released. By law the purse share must fall between a minimum of 9% and a maximum of 11%.

"We feel like we came out of (the negotiations) with some good wins," Hamm told owners, breeders, and trainers during the OTBO awards dinner at Darby Dan Farm in Ohio. "This is very good, and it will help stabilize Ohio racing."

The 10-year agreements with both tracks also include a minimum number of racing days, parameters for the handling of the VLT revenue, and a commitment from tracks that 80% of stalls will be allotted for Ohio horsemen, Hamm said.

The Ohio HBPA still must strike a VLT agreement with Belterra Park, formerly known as River Downs. The facility, rebuilt to accommodate VLTs, is scheduled to open for live racing May 8; gaming will begin the week before.

Any Ohio track that installs VLTs must have an agreement with horsemen on revenue within six months of the activation of the gaming machines or the Ohio State Racing Commission will set the number. In the meantime, a minimum of 9% of VLT revenue is placed into an escrow account overseen by the OSRC.

Purses in the first condition book for Belterra Park reflect a substantial increase from 2012, the last year races were held at River Downs. (A shortened 2013 meet was held at Beulah Park .) Purses at River Downs averaged $45,000 a day two years ago; this year the average will be $80,000 when the meet begins.

The purse for an open maiden special weight event will start at $13,000, with the entry-level allowance condition at $14,000. The open races offer a $5,000 bonus to the winner if it is an Ohio-registered foal. An open $5,000 claiming race will go for $9,000.

The racing surfaces at Belterra Park were moved and rebuilt during last year's construction. The dirt track now has a 6 1/2-furlong chute. The turf course, which was planted last year, won't be used again until 2015.

Purses at ThistleDown Racino this year will average about $100,000 a day, up from $80,000 last year and $48,000 in 2012, Ohio HBPA executive director Dave Basler said.