Vermont Simulcasting Bill Tied to Green Mountain

A Vermont legislator has introduced a bill to authorize year-round simulcasting with the ultimate goal of reopening Green Mountain Park, a racetrack that closed in 1992.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Richard Sears would change existing law that says simulcasting can only be offered during live race meets. It would also strike a provision that says simulcasting can't be offered between 12 midnight and 1 p.m. on Sundays.

The bill was referred to the state Committee on General Affairs and Housing.

Eric Nelson, a Las Vegas-based investor who is in the process of reopening Playfair Race Course in Washington state, wants to bring live racing back to Green Mountain but said it wouldn't be feasible without year-round full-card simulcasting. He told the Bennington Banner the shuttered facility is "probably the biggest non-performing asset Vermont has to bring in tax dollars and tourists."

Gov. James Douglas would like to see live racing return to Green Mountain, but a spokesman told the newspaper he doesn't want the track to become a betting parlor with no live racing.

Located in the southwest corner of the state near the Massachusetts and New York borders, Green Mountain opened in May 1963 with spring and summer Thoroughbred meets. The track was part of a strong New England circuit that included the Massachusetts fairs.

Green Mountain was one of the few tracks in the region to offer Sunday racing, a big draw for gamblers in the pre-simulcasting days. Its record handle of $780,055 was registered on a Sunday afternoon in 1971. In its heyday, it drew crowds in excess of 10,000 despite its somewhat remote location.

The track also offered Standardbred racing before a switch to Greyhound racing. Activists were able to get dog racing outlawed in Vermont, so the track closed. Previous attempts to reopen Green Mountain have failed.