Louisiana Bills to Reduce Dates, Slots Money

LTBA says proposed legislation would have negative impact on state's horse industry.

The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association has issued a call for its members to contact their legislators and voice opposition to several bills filed during the session that began March 10.

According to a post on the organization's website, the most extensive changes to current laws are contained in House Bill 550, introduced by Rep. Henry Burns, that lowers the number of race days at Louisiana Downs from the required minimum of 80 days to a minimum of 30.

HB 550 also proposes reductions in net slot machine awards to purses from the current 15% to 8% and from 3% to 1% for breeders' awards. Burns' bill also calls for the elimination of Quarter Horse racing and breeders' awards proceeds at Louisiana Downs.

House Bill 493, introduced by Rep. Joe Harrison, calls for proceeds of slot machines, video poker, and other types of gaming to be redirected to the Bet on Louisiana's Future Fund, thus eliminating any proceeds going to purses at the track or breeders' awards.

According to the LTBA, House Bill 714, also introduced by Harrison, is much like HB 493 but shows where the monies are to be divided and calls for the elimination of the video poker purse fund, purse supplements, and payments to the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

"We believe that these proposed bills need our immediate attention and must be defeated. It is estimated that the fiscal impact the Louisiana horse industry has on the state's economy is over $2 billion dollars," the LTBA said. "Taking monies away and changing programs only dilutes the program. Louisiana is ranked near the top of the breeding industry. Please contact your representative and senator and ask them to not jeopardize the success the Thoroughbred industry is currently having and to keep the current legislation in place."