Indiana Tracks Ponder Proposed Funding Cuts

By James Platz
One week after Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon proposed the transfer of $10 million from the horse racing industry to the state's general fund, Hoosier Park and Indianapolis Downs officials are calling the cut critical and are looking to other forms of revenue to offset the potential loss.

"It is difficult to understand the possible ramifications for Hoosier Park, Indiana horsemen, owners and breeders," Rick Moore, president of the Anderson track, said last week. "However, eliminating $10 million of the horse racing industry subsidy will be catastrophic for the entire horse racing industry in Indiana."

Hoosier Park's allotment is capped at $6.8 million by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. Starting in 2003, Indianapolis Downs' first full year of operation, the cap will be lifted, and both entities will split the subsidy.

Moore told The Herald Bulletin that if a reduction in the subsidy becomes a reality, he hopes the Indiana General Assembly will consider alternative sources of revenue. One proposal, which was rejected during this year's legislative session, would call for dockside gaming and electronic pull-tabs at each track and off-track facility. Indianapolis Downs attorney Doug Brown said it would come as no surprise, and supports the idea.

"A study has shown that electronic pull-tabs would provide $100 million annually in state revenues," Brown said. "We would be supportive of any efforts to legalize electronic pull-tabs at the two tracks."

Despite pull-tab legislation, Brown is confident of Indianapolis Downs' success even with a cut in the subsidy.

"It will have an impact on the tracks and the industry," he said. "We will have to work with state government."

Indianapolis Downs recently purchased 152 acres of land near Interstate 74 in Shelby County, where the state's second pari-mutuel facility is slated to open in Dec. 2002. Officials have requested 10 days of Standardbred racing, Dec. 6 through Dec. 15, and four days of Thoroughbred racing, Dec. 19 through Dec. 22.