Indiana HBPA Clarifies Release From Coalition

The Indiana HBPA indicated a release from a racing coalition was issued prematurely.

The Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association said it was part of a discussion to assist racetracks by surrendering a portion of horsemen’s revenue from slot machines but isn’t a member of the coalition that issued a June 16 release to that effect.

A release from the Indiana Horse Racing and Breeding Coalition said four groups agreed to give struggling racetracks a share of their revenue over a three-year period. The tracks have slot machines but have said $250-million licensing fees and a requirement to spend $100 million on slots facilities stymied growth.

According to published reports, Centaur, which owns Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, has said it may file for bankruptcy.

The Indiana legislature is in special session and must have a budget in place by June 30. As of June 18, it didn’t appear gaming-related measures, including tax breaks for Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs, had much chance.

The horsemen’s revenue-sharing plan is tied to action in the legislature.

The coalition release said directors of the Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Indiana Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Indiana Standardbred Association, and Quarter Horse Racing Association of Indiana voted to temporarily cede a portion of their slots revenue to the two tracks.

On June 18, Indiana HBPA executive director Steve Stults said his organization dropped out of the coalition earlier this year. It did, however, partake in the discussion about aiding the tracks.

“Did we say we would help the tracks? Yes,” Stults said. “But leading people to believe we are members of the coalition is untrue.”

Stults also said the release was issued prematurely given the state of affairs in Indianapolis, the state capital.

“(The gaming issue) has been pulled twice in the last two days,” Stults said. “It hasn’t even been heard yet, and may not be.”

Under the slots law in Indiana, purses and breed development get 15% of gross revenue from the machines. In the release, the groups said they would take a pay cut: 12% this year, 13% in 2010, and 14% in 2011. The 15% would be restored in 2012.