Talks Break Down Between Horsemen and Gulfstream Park

Negotiations between the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and Magna Entertainment Corp. over a split of slot revenue from Gulfstream Park broke down when FHBPA representatives walked away from the talks.

"We've been holding meetings for four weeks, and they keep offering us the same thing," said FHBPA president Sam Gordon. "The only change they've made is putting the offer in bigger letters."

According to Gordon, Magna has proposed that approximately 3.2% of slot machine revenue go to horsemen's purses, with another 0.75% to the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association. That, he said, would put horsemen in a poor competitive situation compared to other states.

Gordon said the FHBPA has made a counter-proposal in which it receives 6.75% of gross gaming dollars, and had reiterated that offer in a March 3 letter to Magna. "We're not being greedy," he said. "We understand we got a bad law."

The law he refers to is the 50% tax rate on Broward County slots passed in December by the state legislature that is one of the highest in the country. The law also required that Gulfstream reach a deal with horsemen before the first slots lever can be pulled; that has Magna officials eager to resume negotiations.

Don Amos, Magna's executive vice president and chief executive officer, said corporate officials have met regularly since the halt in negotiations and hoped to resume the talks with the FHBPA this week.

"The most important thing in these types of negotiations is transparency, and we've been completely transparent in our presentations," said Amos. "We're looking for a win-win-win situation, and I'm confident we'll reach a satisfactory solution."

Although Amos declined to mention specific figures, he said that Gordon's assertion is not accurate. "We've tried to compromise - we've moved from where we were," Amos said.