Calder, FHBPA Still Negotiating on ADWs

The two groups agreed to an extension until June 1 on talks for ADW ageement.

Calder Casino & Race Course and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association on May 26 agreed to an extension until June 1 on talks for an Advance Deposit Wagering agreement.

That follows extensions that the Florida HBPA had set for May 15 and May 24. Meanwhile, the Florida HPBA will continue to grant its permission for the Miami Gardens, Fla., track to send its signal to and take wagers from all ADWs with which it regularly has business.

The two parties agreed to an extension several hours after Calder, in a notice distributed to Florida HPBA member trainers and owners, said it plans to cut daily average overnight purses by at least 10% if the horsemen’s group prevents the track from sending its signal to ADWs.  In the notice, Calder countered by saying it would raise daily average overnight purses at least 5% if an ADW contract is signed.

“Absolutely, we will raise purses if we have an ADW agreement,” John Marshall, Calder vice president and general manager, said later in the day.  “If our signal does not go out to ADWs, we would lose a significant portion of our revenues for purses.”

ADWs make up about 10% of Calder’s total handle, he said.

Calder began its 2011 meet April 25, with Florida HBPA agreements on purses and simulcasting.
The ADW negotiations concern source market fees, according to Sam Gordon, president of the Florida HPBA, and to Marshall.

Calder’s source market is a 25-mile radius from the track. Under the agreement from last year, Calder and the Florida HPBA receive a combined 3.5% source market fee of bets on Calder races by ADW customers in the source market. The Florida HBPA gets 2 cents for purses and Calder gets 1.5 cents.

The Florida HBPA’s main proposal is an extension of the source market area to 100 miles, Gordon said. Other options, he said are giving the Florida HBPA a bigger share of the 3.5% or increasing the source market fee to 7%, as it was for several years through 2008, Marshall said Calder wants to sign an ADW contract with 2010 terms, as it did with the other contracts.

Gordon said the Florida HPBA feels it needs more money from ADWs to offset declines in other areas of wagering.

Calder is a subsidiary of Churchill Downs Inc., which also owns ADW

Kent Stirling, Florida HBPA executive director, said extending Calder’s source market area would undoubtedly take some direct revenue from  But he said CDI would more than make up for it because of growth in Calder’s source market fees with other ADWs.

If Calder does not sign an ADW contract by June 1, Gordon said it is possible that the Florida HBPA could prevent Calder from sending its signal to at least some ADWs.

A complete list of ADWs that carry Calder was not readily available. Marshall said it includes most major ADWs, including those run by OTBs.

Calder began its 2011 meet with a target of $172,000 for average daily overnight purses. It has met that target through May 26, Marshall said. Calder began 2010 with an average of $164,000 for average daily overnights and ended it at $150,000.

Prior to the 2011 meet, he said Calder would open with a conservative overnight structure with a hope of later raising purses.

Gordon and several trainers have told The Blood-Horse they had hoped Calder would start the meet at a higher number than $172,000 to provide an early incentive for owners to keep horses at Calder.

“They (Calder) have money in the purse account, including from slot machines, that they could be paying out in purses now,” Gordon said.

Calder does not publish its daily handle figures. Marshall said that through May 26, Calder’s 2011 handle was slightly lower than what it expected live on-track, better than what it expected from out-of-state sources and about what it expected from sources in Florida.