More competition for Kentucky racing will come April 20 when Indiana Downs begins a 62-day meet featuring purse increases for most overnight races and an expanded stakes schedule worth more than $1 million.
Saying five of the state's seven racetracks will close without assistance from the legislature, the Ohio State Racing Commission March 19 released a draft plan for 14,000 video lottery terminals that would be located at tracks.
The Maryland Jockey Club March 17 officially unveiled a 2009 spring stakes schedule at Pimlico Race Course that's down about $1 million from last year and doesn't include the grade I Pimlico Special.
The economy continues to take its toll on racetracks, including those with alternative gaming. Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in West Virginia said it will cut overnight purses 10% effective April 20.
Turfway Park has canceled its third consecutive Monday program because of a shortage of horses, officials said March 13.
- By Tom LaMarra
Fort Erie Race Track & Slots in Ontario, Canada, will offer live Thoroughbred racing this year, and the local horsemen's group is asking for support from owners and trainers.
With the Kentucky General Assembly seemingly headed for a special session this spring or summer to address a substantial revenue deficit, a legislative committee March 12 heard testimony on a bill that would authorize video lottery terminals at racetracks in the state.
In anticipation of a push by a consortium for casino gambling in Ohio's four largest cities, the Ohio State Racing Commission is formulating its own legislative proposal for video lottery terminals at the state's seven racetracks.
The New York Thoroughbred Breeders, disturbed by a delay in a plan for thousands of video lottery terminals at Aqueduct, called the situation "inexplicable" and said Gov. David Paterson should put the project on "war footing."
Representatives of two Kentucky Thoroughbred tracks said they will be forced to reduce racing dates due to declining economic conditions, with the owner of Ellis Park saying his track would not race in 2010 unless alternative gaming is legalized in the Bluegrass State.
The multi-year quest for a stable funding source for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission took another turn March 10 when legislation to increase the powers of the KHRC unanimously passed a Senate committee. Whether the bill is approved--and whether the commission gets a new funding source--could be determined on the Senate floor.
Turfway Park is having a tough time making up for programs canceled because of the weather during the current winter/spring meet.
Magna Entertainment Corp. and partner Forest City Enterprises announced Feb. 26 the first 32 tenants for the retail portion of their The Village at Gulfstream Park development. Plans for the $1.2-billion complex, adjacent to Gulfstream's clubhouse/casino building, include a hotel and condominiums on the property in Hallandale Beach, Fla. Meanwhile, officials are reluctant to speculate on a possible bankruptcy filing by MEC.
Some Texas lawmakers are trying again to establish Las Vegas-style casinos in the state, and they say now is the time to do it because the state needs the money. Racetracks would be included, according to legislation unveiled Feb. 24.
In their first 11 months of operation, slot machines at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course produced more than $22.6 million for Thoroughbred purses and breed development. The funds have allowed Penn National to offer a minimum purse that will be higher than that paid by some of its competitors.
The chairman of the Kentucky Equine Education Project said Feb. 18 he expects gaming-related legislation benefitting the Kentucky horse industry to pass -- but he's not sure when.
A Penn National Gaming Inc. official said the company doesn't plan to ask voters this year to approve table games at Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia.
More than 100 people who make their living in the Kentucky horse industry made their case to three Northern Kentucky legislators Feb. 16, and the message was clear: The economics must change or the state will lose a valuable asset.
Revised legislation to authorize video lottery terminals at Kentucky racetracks unanimously passed out of a House of Representatives committee Feb. 12, but its sponsor is unsure the measure will be voted on by the full House during the current General Assembly session.
The company selected to operate video lottery terminals at Aqueduct said there are a host of unresolved issues, including restructuring its financing deal, before it can close on a final agreement with the state of New York to begin construction on the long-delayed facility.
Magna Entertainment Corp. said Feb. 4 it has arranged to pay a $28.5-million licensing fee for slot machines -- but the money will be placed in an escrow account at a Maryland bank.
In a jaw-dropping revision, Maryland received requests for far fewer slot machines in five license proposals than previously thought, and two of the six bidders -- including Laurel Park owner Magna Entertainment Corp. -- failed to pay $22.5 million in required up-front fees, a state official said Feb. 3.
Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo said Feb. 2 House lawmakers could vote on legislation to expand gambling before the end of the year -- the surest signal yet that casinos or slot machines may be coming to the state.
The $1-million Delaware Handicap (gr. II) will be the highlight of a scaled-back $3.175-million stakes program at Delaware Park in 2009, the track announced Jan. 29.
Jack Sours has been named president and general manager of Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort, MTR Gaming president and chief executive officer Bob Griffin announced Jan. 13.
Charles Town Races & Slots has announced a 2009 open stakes schedule with a record $2.7 million available in purses. The 12 scheduled stakes will take place on three special event days, beginning April 18 with Charles Town Classic Day.
When the Texas legislature convenes Jan. 13, a bill to legalize alternative gaming at the state's racetracks is ready to be filed. The Texas racing industry has angled for video lottery terminals for the past decade, but in 2009, business will not be as usual.
Democratic Kentucky Rep. Greg Stumbo plans to file legislation to authorize Kentucky Lottery Corp.-operated video lottery terminals at the state's racetracks.
- By Tom LaMarra
As hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from slot machines flows to horse racing, there is growing sentiment that perhaps the racing industry is failing to capitalize on the new wealth by solely pumping money into purses and breed development programs.
An Ohio lawmaker whose district includes River Downs said Nov. 26 he plans to introduce legislation in 2009 for casino-style gaming that would support the horse racing and breeding in the state.
With revenue from slot machines probably a few years away, Thoroughbred racing in Maryland will continue in no-frills mode for the immediate future.
Maryland voters approved legalizing slot machines Tuesday in a constitutional amendment, paving the way for up to 15,000 machines in five locations and ending years of debate between lawmakers who never managed to pass the measure on their own.
Ohio voters Nov. 4 rejected a proposed $600-million casino -- the fourth time plans for expanded gambling in the state have been turned down since 1990.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and Indiana Downs have submitted requests for 2009 schedules that could significantly impact surrounding states.
The Governor's Task Force on Racing in Kentucky is close to preparing and releasing a report pinpointing problems and offering recommendations that ultimately will require a lot of money -- something in short supply given an ongoing budget crunch.
After more than a dozen years of wrangling, Illinois race tracks and horse owners soon may see the influx of millions of dollars from riverboat casinos – and Hawthorne Race Course could add a casino to its racing operations, helping drive additional subsidies for all tracks.
The Maryland Jockey Club said it is "aggressively supporting" a campaign to win approval via a Nov. 4 statewide referendum for slot machines at five locations in the state.
The two other pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade County, Florida, have moved ahead of Calder Race Course in announcing plans for casinos that would have Las Vegas-style slot machines.
The nation's financial crisis has stepped up efforts to prod state government in New York to select an operator for the long-stalled video lottery terminal casino at Aqueduct, and launched a renewed effort to bring VLTs to Belmont Park.
- By Tom LaMarra
This year's International Simulcast Conference opened Sept. 29 with some advice to the horseracing industry: Embrace the "whales" and computer-assisted wagering, and close some tracks to help improve the product at those that remain.
A new stakes worth up to $1 million will be offered next year at Charles Town Races & Slots in West Virginia.
The Supreme Court of Florida Sept. 11 denied a request by the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Gov. Charlie Crist for a re-hearing on its July 3 ruling that blackjack and baccarat are illegal at the tribe's Hollywood, Fla., casino.
- By Jim Freer
Churchill Downs Inc. and the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association announced Sept. 10 that they have reached an agreement on a contract for future slot machine revenue at CDI-owned Calder Race Course.
Rick Moore, general manager at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, is leaving the Indiana track after 14 years, officials announced Aug. 29, opening day of the Thoroughbred meet. His last day will be Sept. 12.
Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino, which opened in the spring of 2004, is scheduled to offer its first turf race Sept. 1.
Hoosier Park Racing & Casino kicks off a 14th season of Thoroughbred racing Aug. 29, and the 63-day meet will be one of change.
The Indiana Horse Racing Commission approved a plan Aug. 14 that calls for significant increases to purses offered through the Thoroughbred Breed Development program at the upcoming Hoosier Park meet.
Total purses earned at Pennsylvania racetracks jumped 162% from 2006 to 2007 because of revenue from on-track slot machines, while the percentage of purses earned from pari-mutuel wagering dropped substantially during the same period, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's first "benchmark report" on the impact of slots on pari-mutuel wagering.
Texas Thoroughbred Association executive director David Hooper addressed the Greater Houston Horse Council July 21 in an effort to garner support for a new breed coalition, Texas Horse Organizations for Racing, Showing and Eventing, which is known as Texas HORSE.
Despite downward trends in wagering nationwide, Indiana Downs bucked the trend by staying relatively flat during its 54-day Thoroughbred meet that ended July 8.
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