FHBPA Pledges $1M to Gulfstream Development

Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino is moving forward with a plan for a second-phase of 700 slot machines, and has also secured a commitment of $1 million in partnered investment help from the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, it was announced Dec. 22.

The additional slots will be installed as early as February in the All-In room on the first clubhouse floor at the Hallandale Beach, Fla. track. Renovations in the former poker room will be funded, in part, by an additional $21 million secured by track owner Magna Entertainment through the financing arm of its parent, MI Developments.

The commitment from the FHBPA is intended to offset the costs of completed construction of a new outside saddling ring and accompanying stalls, as well as the installation of temporary stands to hold an additional 500 to 600 patrons. The payments will be paid out over five years, said FHBPA president Sam Gordon.

"It's a good-will gesture," said Gordon. "It's really a pittance to pay. The minute the additional slots get going into purses, we'll get it back. It just shows that we are willing to do our part."

The FHBPA and Gulfstream have an agreement in place that gives the horsemen's group 6.75% of slots revenue up to $200 million, and a 12.6% slice when that figure is attained.

Gulfstream officials did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but Gulfstream president Paul Micucci applauded the partnership in a press statement.

"This is a great example of horsemen and racetrack management working together," he said.

Moving the second phase of slots into the Gulfstream clubhouse is a reversal of what track officials have said recently. In a conference call on third-quarter earnings held in early November, Magna CFO Blake Tohana said the company was still considering its options, but it wasn't likely that the remaining allotment of slots would go in the existing plant.

"We're still going through the planning and design stages for the phase two . . . because we're going to need a separate building to house that facility," Tohana said at the time.

Gulfstream opened its first-phase of 561 slots on Nov. 15, and realized about $3.4 million in revenues in its first two weeks. Racing purses are projected to jump to a daily average of $400,000 in the first year of slots operation, and to $500,000 when the full allotment of 1,500 machines is up and running at Gulfstream.