Horsemen, Rockingham at Odds Over Simulcasting Revenue

The New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association was expected to withhold permission for Rockingham Park to send its live signal to other wagering facilities effective Wednesday. The move comes in response to an impasse in the group's negotiations with track management over simulcasting revenue splits.

Live racing would continue at the New Hampshire facility. Donald Sheldon, negotiator for the HBPA, said horsemen have no control over incoming simulcasting signals. Rockingham opened in early June.

"We are not even speaking with other jurisdictions," Sheldon said. "If a horseman's group from another jurisdiction should choose to do something (withhold signal) on their own, so be it."

Rockingham Park general manager Ed Callahan, when asked about the situation, said: "Negotiations are continuing. We're hoping for an agreement so that we all can go on and present the sport to the public."

The dispute centers on the percentage of simulcasting money that goes to horsemen for purses. Horsemen said they currently receive 4% from simulcasting at Rockingham. At the recently concluded Suffolk Downs meet, horsemen got 5.25%, they said.

With the push on for new legislation in Massachusetts before the current extension of an old law expires at the end of June, horsemen have been lobbying for 7.5% of the simulcasting pie. Sheldon said that figure is in line with other jurisdictions.

"We think our proposal is fair," Sheldon said of Rockingham, though he did not get into details. "It still leaves Rockingham Park with one of the lowest returns to horsemen on simulcasting revenue in the country."