The Ohio horseracing and breeding industry always seems to be at a crossroads. With 2008 almost three months old, negative trends continue and near-term relief isn't in sight.
The Florida Senate approved March 13 two slot-machine bills that would help the state's Thoroughbred racetracks and other pari-mutuel facilities. However, there is considerable opposition to the bills in the Florida House of Representatives, and the influential Seminole Tribe of Florida is expressing concerns about the legislation.
Steroids, new emergency rules for horse racing, and updates on racetrack casino construction at Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs dominated the discussion during the March 11 Indiana Horse Racing Commission meeting.
The financial health of Magna Entertainment Corp. could become part of the debate about legalizing slot machines in Maryland, as supporters and detractors ready for a statewide referendum in November.
With a contentious proposal to legalize casinos stalled in the House, a lawmaker is floating a compromise measure that would allow only slot machines and video poker at Kentucky racetracks.
Atlantic City casinos have agreed to boost financial help for New Jersey's racetracks, but officials said long-term funding issues remain.
Two bills that would help Thoroughbred racetracks, the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co., and the state's other pari-mutuel facilities will be on the calendar when the Florida legislature begins its annual two-month session March 4.
Hoosier Park owner Centaur received approval Feb. 25 to purchase the 110 acres of land on which the Anderson, Ind., racetrack sits.
After a Kentucky constitutional amendment calling for nine casino licenses passed out of committee Feb. 27, it was unclear whether the horse industry would continue to support the legislation. But indications lawmakers and Gov. Steve Beshear would look out for the industry led the Kentucky Equine Education Project to support the bill.
Pennsylvania probably won't become a leader in terms of number of Thoroughbred foals bred each year, but its breeding program figures to give programs in the rest of the United States a serious run for their money.
An executive with experience working at racetrack casinos said Feb. 25 that even though slot machines are the revenue driver, horse racing has value and can have even more if gaming and racing factions work together.
In an attempt to recruit people to support the proposed constitutional amendment for expanded gaming, the Kentucky Equine Education Project urged its members to attend a Feb. 26 committee meeting hearing for the bill, as well as a horse trailer caravan "rally" the same day in Frankfort.
The "Smarty slots" in Pennsylvania have been jingling for more than a year. In Kentucky, where the racing industry views Pennsylvania as a major threat, casino legislation broke from the gate in a tangle yet again this year.
Isle Racing & Casino at Pompano Park is delaying a decision on possible cancellation of some March and April racing dates.
Action on recommended revisions to a constitutional amendment to authorize a vote on casino gambling in Kentucky will wait until the week of Feb. 24.
A legislative subcommittee studying expanded gambling in Kentucky has recommended a revised constitutional amendment that reduces the number of casinos permitted in the state to nine, requires local approval of some sort for all casinos, and removes dedicated percentages for gaming revenue.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear unveiled legislation Feb. 14 calling for a constitutional amendment to allow for up to 12 casinos--seven at racetracks and five at non-racetrack locations.
Gulfstream Park's $75,000 Shotintheheart Handicap Feb. 14 will be the first of as many as four Florida-bred stakes it will add this season.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National opened on time Feb. 12 with bells and whistles--and with a rousing alarm and taped recording telling everyone to vacate the building.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National will open its slot machines to the public Feb. 12, but live Thoroughbred racing will have to wait at least another day.
Trainer Steve Asmussen will have a division at Woodbine for the first time when the Toronto-area track opens its 167-day meet April 5.
Now that voters in California have decisively approved a massive increase in Indian gaming for four large Southern California tribes, the chairman of the state's horse racing board says it is time for the tribal casinos to help out his ailing industry with financial mitigation.
The integrated gaming and racing facility has scheduled "test nights" for Feb. 8 and Feb. 10. Test nights are regularly held at casinos to ensure that all equipment is operating properly.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has promised to add keno games to the Ohio Lottery to make up for a projected budget shortfall at the end of this fiscal year on June 30.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear again has called for the state General Assembly to approve legislation allowing a referendum on casino gambling, but details of the legislation still haven't been released.
Voters in Miami-Dade County, Fla., approved slot machines for Calder Race Course and the county's two other pari-mutuel facilities in a Jan. 29 referendum. They passed the ballot issue by a 63%-37% margin--a decisive victory in a race many observers expected would be close.
Delaware Park could conduct no less than 135 days of Thoroughbred racing each year under legislation introduced in the state General Assembly.
A Pennsylvania regulator said progress is being made in attempts to educate legislators and make sure horse racing gets its due as gaming parlors continue to open around the state, but much remains to be done.
Calder Race Course president Ken Dunn expects "a tough race" during the last days before Miami-Dade County's Jan. 29 vote on slot machines for Calder and two other pari-mutuel facilities.
The racing industry in California is split on referendums that would allow Indian tribes to add thousands of slot machines to their casinos.
To continue dialogue on why Kentucky needs expanded gaming, and to further educate the General Assembly on the matter, Kentucky Equine Education Project executive director Patrick Neely recently gave a presentation during a special legislative subcommittee meeting in Frankfort, the state capital.
As reports have surfaced that Birmingham Race Course in Alabama may again seek to install electronic bingo games, the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association will take yet another look at the status of the Alabama HBPA, which continues to say a return of live Thoroughbred racing to Birmingham is possible.
The board of directors of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario has unanimously approved the extension of its current contract with Woodbine Entertainment Group for an additional three years, the organization announced Jan. 18.
Details on legislation to authorize casino gambling in Kentucky will have to wait for another day.
On-track handle at Calder Race Course fell 24% during the 2007 portion of its Tropical meet, according to data obtained from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Calder's simulcast handle fell 26% compared with the same period in 2006.
Gaming expansion, including authorization for slot machines at racetracks, appears to have been left at the starting gate once again in the Illinois General Assembly.
Representatives from Kentucky's Thoroughbred racetracks pitched legalized casino gambling to a state legislative panel Jan. 9, and suggested they haven't decided whether gambling halls would be located at tracks.
It will be a new day for Thoroughbred racing in central Pennsylvania Feb. 12 when Penn National Race Course, rebuilt as a racing and gaming complex, reopens for live racing as the Hollywood Casino at Penn National.
The year 2008 has brought another purse increase to Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack, but the Pennsylvania track and other tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region are expected to continue competing for horses as the year progresses.
After cutting its daily purses about 7% in early November, Calder Race Course quietly restored the money during the final weeks of its meet that ends Jan. 2. But questions concerning Calder and other South Florida tracks linger into the new year.
Gulfstream Park will have still another new look when it opens its season Jan. 3, 2008, and track president and general manager Bill Murphy says the latest changes come "from listening to what people wanted."
Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack received approval for its master plan from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Dec. 18 and now has a permanent license to operate slot machines.
Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment and the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association announced Dec. 10 they have extended their live racing contract at Philadelphia Park Casino and Racetrack for seven years, with Greenwood promising to make substantial improvements to the backstretch as well as revert most of the grandstand back to a venue for horseplayers.
Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino estimates its horse racing program ran a $29,215,000 deficit in 2006.
Penn National Gaming Inc. said Nov. 28 it will not purchase Rosecroft Raceway, a Maryland harness track, in light of the fact the facility will not be eligible for slot machines under legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly.
The West Virginia Lottery Commission has authorized Mountaineer Casino Resort & Racetrack to conduct two nights of testing in preparation for the soon-to-be announced official opening of table games.
Discussion by Kentucky lawmakers on a public television program revealed a split on casino gambling. Meanwhile, a legislative working group hopes to have a report on the issue ready for the state General Assembly by Feb. 1, 2008.
Maryland racing interests are optimistic over passage of legislation to authorize a statewide referendum on slot machines in November 2008, but they indicated there remains a need for financial relief before the slots measure even comes up for a vote.
The Florida House of Representatives asked the state Supreme Court Nov. 19 to prevent Gov. Charlie Crist from implementing a Class III slot-machine deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida without the legislature's approval.
A California state senator says he expects to see tribal casinos develop an ownership stake in racetracks, leading to the potential for wagering devices such as Instant Racing or slot machines at racing facilities.
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