Calder Race Course announced it has been forced to suspend simulcast operations while the State of Florida appeals a court ruling on the constitutionality of an intrastate simulcast-wagering law. As a result, Calder will be closed for simulcasting until further notice.
"We deeply regret being forced to suspend simulcast operations and the inconvenience it will cause South Florida racing fans," said Calder President Ken Dunn in a release. "The fact that Calder was able to remain open for simulcasting after the conclusion of our live racing season was especially important this year, given the ongoing renovations at Gulfstream Park and the need to provide additional accommodations to customers while the construction process continues. Wagering revenues generated through simulcasting at Calder also fuel purses for our Florida horsemen - purses that thousands of horse owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms and other stable employees who work and pay taxes in our state depend on to make their living.
"The agreement reached by Calder and Gulfstream last year to conduct year-round simulcasting at both tracks was a positive step forward for Florida racing," Dunn continued. "We want to work with our pari-mutuel partners, horsemen and state regulators to increase state tax revenue, track revenue, purses and breeders' awards, and to promote customer loyalty. We hope to move ahead with those objectives once the Supreme Court hears this case."
Calder and Gulfstream Park - Thoroughbred horse racing tracks in Miami-Dade County and Broward County, respectively - entered into an agreement Dec. 9 to exchange simulcast signals of their live horse races as well as interstate racing signals. Calder and Gulfstream pursued the agreement after Florida's First District Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that a state law prohibiting the exchange of live and simulcast racing signals between South Florida Thoroughbred tracks was unconstitutional. The Calder-Gulfstream agreement paved the way for simulcast wagering to take place at both tracks on a year-round basis, and the exchange of simulcasts began with the start of Gulfstream's 2006 live racing meet on Jan. 4.
Previously, Calder and Gulfstream were not allowed to exchange their live racing signals and were only allowed to conduct simulcast wagering while their live race meets were underway. In 2004, Gulfstream challenged in court the constitutionality of the law that kept the two tracks from conducting simulcasting year-round. A Florida circuit court ruled in Gulfstream's favor and declared the law unconstitutional. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the state agency that regulates pari-mutuel gaming operations in the state, appealed the lower court ruling to the First District Court of Appeals. In October 2005, the appellate court upheld the lower court's ruling.
The Department has since appealed the district court ruling to Florida's Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has elected to hear the case, and as part of its decision, the high court reinstated an automatic stay, forcing the exchange of simulcasts to end and Calder to discontinue off-season simulcast operations while the case is adjudicated.
The suspension of simulcast operations at Calder will force the temporary lay-off of approximately 90 Calder employees who remained at the track following the live racing season to serve simulcast patrons.