Indiana Legislation Targets Incoming Simulcasts

Legislation to be considered by the Indiana Senate would mandate that incoming simulcasts be made available to all wagering outlets in the state or not be available at all. The bill was reported out of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Utilities, and Public Policy Jan. 24.

The bill is designed for a situation in southern Indiana, where off-track betting parlors operated by Indiana Downs aren't permitted to take Thoroughbred signals from Kentucky racetracks. The parlors are located in Clarksville and Evansville, which are directly across the Ohio River from Churchill Downs and Ellis Park, respectively.

Kentucky horsemen withheld the signals to protect some revenue. (A bet made on the signals at the Kentucky locations returns more to purses and the tracks than a bet made at the out-of-state OTB parlors.) The tracks, both operated by Churchill Downs Inc., also want to maintain their simulcast business.

CDI is majority owner of Hoosier Park, the Indiana track located about an hour from Indiana Downs.

Indiana Downs, the Shelbyville track that does import the Kentucky signals, had asked the Indiana Horse Racing Commission to withdraw its consent to allow Kentucky simulcasts at any track in the state, but the IHRC has taken no action. The IHRC is one of the parties that must sign off on simulcasts under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.

A fiscal impact statement attached to the Senate bill says the 2% pari-mutuel wagering tax generated $4.5 million for the state in fiscal year 2005, while the 0.5% OTB tax produced $676,000. Pari-mutuel breakage and tickets that weren't cashed generated $1.9 million in fiscal year 2005 for breed development programs.

The state Office of Fiscal and Management Analysis said revenue could decline if other wagering outlets in the state are denied the Kentucky signals.

An amendment to the Senate bill filed Jan. 31 would allow the IHRC to bill a "permit-holder operating a racetrack in Shelby County"--Indiana Downs--for any losses suffered by permit-holders that can no longer carry Kentucky signals.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported handle at the Clarksville OTB was up 51% from 2004 to 2005, though it operated only nine months in 2004. Meanwhile, simulcast handle at Churchill Downs was down about 13% from 2004 to 2005. Churchill moved the operation from its Trackside Training Center on track early last year.

Ohio, through its 1996 law that authorized full-card simulcasts, also requires incoming signals to be made available to all outlets. However, a blacked-out track or tracks can grant a waiver to the other facilities to take a signal.

River Downs and Lebanon Raceway aren't permitted to import Turfway Park races, but they granted the other wagering outlets in the state the right to do so.