Gulfstream Park Cancels Unsanctioned Quarter Horse Racing Scheduled for December 31, 2011

After long and intense negotiations, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, together with Gulfstream Park, were pleased to announce that an understanding in principle has been reached on a tentative new purse agreement.  Both sides are pleased with the upside potential for Thoroughbred racing in Florida.  Importantly, Gulfstream’s planned, unsanctioned Quarter Horse race scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on December 31, 2011 that was so vehemently opposed by the Thoroughbred horsemen has been canceled as part of the agreement.

“I think the horsemen will be pleased with the results of the negotiation, which should mean increased purses going forward,” FHBPA President Phil Combest said.  “Naturally, it’s a relief that Gulfstream’s unsanctioned Quarter Horse race has been canceled, inasmuch as the precedent it set could have resulted in enormous negative impact for Florida’s racing industry.”

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Legitimate Florida Quarter Horse Racing at Hialeah Park Posts All-Time, All-Sources Christmas Eve Handle of $381,751

Hialeah, FL, December 24, 2011 – With all eight Christmas Eve races broadcast for wagering on TVG, Hialeah Park recorded an all-sources mutuel handle of $381,751 on Saturday December 24, a new all-time high for Quarter Horse racing at this historic South Florida racing emporium.

The new high-water mark was over $75,000 more than the previous record handle, set during the 2010-2011 season.

Quarter Horse racing in Florida has been guided to success by the State’s only lawfully recognized Quarter Horsemen’s association, the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (“FQHRA”).

The FQHRA is dedicated to carrying out the high standards of the American Quarter Horse Association—an organization that has been in existence for hundreds of years and holds the humane treatment of horses among its highest principles. 

FQHRA was formed to represent the people who have an interest in racing the American Quarter Horse in Florida in matters pertaining to business, property, and activities of the association.  One of the primary goals of the FQHRA is to ensure that the welfare of the American Quarter Horse is paramount and that every American Quarter Horse at all times be treated humanely and with dignity, respect and compassion.  The FQHRA is committed to promoting American Quarter Horse racing in Florida along with providing beneficial services to its members and to serve as a positive communication link between the members of the FQHRA and the American Quarter Horse Association.

Violating its Contract with Thoroughbred horsemen, Gulfstream Park has scheduled a Quarter Horse event to open its Dec. 31 program, the Blood-Horse’s Jim Freer reports

Gulfstream Sets Quarter Horse Race Dec. 31
by Jim Freer
Date Posted: 12/28/2011 7:06:54 PM
Last Updated: 12/29/2011 11:06:54 AM

Going against a request from Thoroughbred horsemen, Gulfstream Park has scheduled a Quarter Horse event to open its Dec. 31 program, the first such race in the history of the Hallandale Beach, Fla., track.

The Quarter Horse race is the first on a 12-race card that will be followed by 11 Thoroughbred races. According to the Gulfstream entries posted Dec. 28, there are six entrants for a $5,000 maiden claiming race at 220 yards with a $12,000 purse.

The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has asked Gulfstream not to run the Quarter Horse race because its contract with Gulfstream does not permit it to hold any races other than for Thoroughbreds through Dec. 31, 2012. Officials of the Florida HBPA were not available for comment late in the afternoon Dec. 28.

Gulfstream has held a Quarter Horse permit for several years. On Dec. 19 the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering issued Gulfstream a Quarter Horse license for two performances.

On Dec. 23, Gulfstream president and general manager Tim Ritvo said the track activated its dormant Quarter Horse permit because it is concerned the Florida legislature in 2012 might revoke any permits, usually for additional types of wagering, that were not active at Florida pari-mutuel facilities.

In a sense, Gulfstream maintained it was in a use-it or lose-it situation for a second permit. That would offer the prospect of increasing its maximum permitted slot machines from 2,000 to 4,000 if it later expands its Quarter Horse racing. Gulfstream has about 850 slot machines.

The scheduling of a traditional Quarter Horse race Dec. 31 alleviated concerns of some Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industry officials that Gulfstream might use its Quarter Horse permit to hold pari-mutuel barrel racing. Since Dec. 2 Gretna Racing in Gretna, Fla., near Tallahassee has been using a Quarter Horse license to hold a controversial pari-mutuel barrel racing meet.

Gulfstream’s Quarter Horse license requires it to run one race Dec. 31 and one Jan. 1, 2012. Either can be a substitute race with another breed. Track officials said the Jan. 1 race will be a Thoroughbred race as a substitute.

Gulfstream officials were not available for further comment Dec. 28.

The Dec. 31 Quarter Horse race will have two horses that have raced this season at Hialeah Park, which is the only Florida track with conventional Quarter Horse racing. All of the race’s trainers and jockeys are part of Hialeah’s meet that began Dec. 10.

Hialeah general manager Randy Soth said his track advised Gulfstream on the logistics of holding a Quarter Horse race, and noted the two tracks have no agreement on providing horses for the race.

The Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association has a purse agreement with Hialeah. That association’s president, Dr. Steven Fisch, said the organization was not contacted by Gulfstream concerning the upcoming race.

“We would like to be part of Quarter Horse racing at Gulfstream, provided it also would help the Thoroughbred horsemen and industry,” Fisch said. “We will not take any actions that would put us in disagreement with the Florida HBPA.”

Read more: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/66733/gulfstream-sets-quarter-horse-race-dec-31#ixzz1hwOIyc35

Gulfstream Park Tells FHBPA’s Kent Stirling That Caesar’s Destination Resort Behind Bizarre Quarter Horse Pari-Mutuel Permit Slot Grab; The Blood Horse’s Jim Freer Reports

Gulfstream Quarter Horse Plan Questioned

Updated: Monday, December 26, 2011 1:09 PM
Gulfstream Quarter Horse Plan Questioned

Photo: Coglianese Photos
Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream Park will hold one or possibly two Quarter Horse races over the New Year’s weekend—one after its last Thoroughbred race Dec. 31 and a second possibly after its last Thoroughbred race Jan. 1.  The plan to run those races has led to immediate and strong opposition from the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

“Gulfstream Park has decided to exercise its dormant, non-profit Quarter Horse permit,” Gulfstream president and GM Tim Ritvo said in a statement Dec. 23. “We were advised by counsel that if we didn’t exercise the permit there was a possibility of losing it during the upcoming (Florida) legislative session.”

Ritvo added: “Every major pari-mutuel has been activating their dormant permits due to widespread expectations that lawmakers will revoke the permits during the upcoming session.”

Purses for the Quarter Horse races will come out of a separate account from the purse account for Gulfstream’s current meet, he said.

However, the Florida HBPA is considering legal action that would prevent Gulfstream from holding Quarter Horse races, said  the association’s executive director Kent Stirling. He said the Florida HBPA is concerned that Gulfstream could have expanded Quarter Horse racing during months other than the Thoroughbred season—with money from simulcasts, slot machines, and poker going to groups other than Thoroughbred horsemen.

Gulfstream, in Hallandale Beach, Fla., has held a Quarter Horse permit for several years.  On Dec. 19, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering issued Gulfstream a Quarter Horse license for two performances.

Stirling said that Gulfstream’s contract with the Florida HPBA does not allow it to hold any racing other than Thoroughbred racing through Dec. 31, 2012.  He said the Florida HBPA is considering legal action that would prevent Gulfstream from holding Quarter Horse races.
Alon Ossip, an executive vice president for The Stronach Group, which owns Gulfstream, on Dec. 22 told Stirling and other Florida HBPA officials about the plan for two Quarter Horse races.

Ossip did not provide the Florida HBPA with details on plans for any additional Quarter Horse racing at Gulfstream, Stirling said.

Under one interpretation of Florida laws, holding one Quarter Horse race in two consecutive years can make a pari-mutuel in Broward County (Gulfstream’s locale) or Miami-Dade County eligible for a second casino.  Each of those casinos can have as many as 2,000 Las Vegas-style slot machines.

“He (Ossip) said the two Quarter Horse races could enable Gulfstream to have as many as 4,000 slots,” Stirling said. “He said someone like Caesar’s might be interested.”

A bill under consideration in the Florida legislature would authorize as many as three destination resort hotels in southeast Florida.  In addition to slot machines, each would have roulette and craps, which are currently not legal in Florida.

Ritvo has told The Blood-Horse that Gulfstream would like to be considered as a site for a destination resort.

Gulfstream has about 825 slot machines. It has vacant land, for a possible hotel-casino, on the south side of its property.

Gulfstream’s plan for two Quarter Horse races “came as a complete surprise, and was like a kick in the stomach from someone we thought was a partner,” Stirling said.
Ritvo said Ossip was hoping “to continue talks through Saturday to insure the horsemen this wasn’t being done to disrupt Thoroughbred racing. Unfortunately, members of the FHBPA were unavailable.”

“The Stronach Group remains committed to not only preserving Thoroughbred racing but allowing it to thrive,” Ritvo said.

Hialeah Park is holding Florida’s only conventional Quarter Horse meet with a purse contract with the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association.

“They (Florida HQRA) are not providing horses to Gulfstream, and I don’t know who is,” Stirling said.

He said the Florida HBPA is concerned that Gulfstream could later use its Quarter Horse permit for pari-mutuel barrel racing—in a low-cost meet without the Florida HBPA in which Gulfstream might be able to keep bigger shares of simulcast and slot revenues.

He noted that Marc Dunbar, a Tallahassee attorney, is a lobbyist for Gulfstream and is one of the owners of Gretna Racing in Gretna, Fla.

Dunbar did not return phone calls.

On Dec. 1, Gretna Racing, which is near Tallahassee, began the first pari-mutuel barrel racing meet in Florida—a meet that is widely considered to be the first pari-mutuel barrel racing in the United States.

On Oct. 18, the Florida DPMW granted Gretna Racing a Quarter Horse license. Gretna is using the license for barrel racing, with Quarter Horses.

The Florida QHRA and the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders and Owners Association, in an emergency motion in a state court and in a state administrative hearing, are challenging the legality of Gretna’s licenses for racing and for a poker room it opened on Dec. 9.

Gretna Racing has been able to hold barrel racing, rather than conventional Quarter Horse racing, because Florida laws specify the breeds of horses but not the types of races that must be held with horse racing licenses.

On Dec. 21, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, said:“It doesn’t appear to me that it (barrel racing) was the intent of the law.”

Scott’s comment, to the Palm Beach Post editorial board, was his first public statement on the race meet at Gretna.

Several members of the Florida House and Senate have said they favor a change in definitions of horse racing, to prevent other facilities from having pari-mutuel barrel racing.  The Florida legislature will hold its 2012 regular session from Jan. 10 to March 9.

 

Read more: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/66710/gulfstream-quarter-horse-plan-questioned#ixzz1hm2Mwlzv

Paulick Report: Why Gulfstream Park is conducting a couple of Quarter Horse races in the middle of its Thoroughbred meet is anyone’s guess.

Anyone who has been following the mind-boggling approval of a pari-mutuel barrel racing permit for slots scheme in Gretna, Fla., knows the Florida state gambling laws have loopholes big enough to drive a field of horses through. Still, it comes as something of a surprise to learn that Gulfstream Park, which holds a Quarter horse racing permit, on Monday had a license application approved by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to conduct two Quarter horse racing dates on Dec. 31, 2011, and Jan. 1, 2012. They were approved for a total of two races in the name of Gulfstream Thoroughbred After Racing Program Inc.

Why Gulfstream Park is conducting a couple of Quarter horse races in the middle of its Thoroughbred is anyone’s guess. If I were a betting man, however, I’d say it has something to do with using the Quarter horse permit to get additional slot machines, and perhaps eventually building a second casino on the Gulfstream Park property that straddles Broward and Dade Counties.

There are questions about this mystery meeting, such as: Where will the Quarter horses come from? Which Quarter horse racing association will be the “official” horsemen’s group affilicated with the meeting? When was Gulfstream Park going public with this two-race meeting, and how will it fit in with the Thoroughbred programs scheduled those same two days? And if Gulfstream is able to use the Quarter horse permit to add slot machines to a second casino on the track property, will it share the revenue with Thoroughbred horsemen?

Tim Ritvo, Gulfstream’s president and general manager, confirmed that the track was approved for a Quarter horse license. “Gulfstream Park has decided to exercise its dormant, non-profit Quarter Horse permit,” Ritvo told the Paulick Report. “We were advised by counsel that if we didn’t exercise the permit there was a possibility of losing it during the upcoming legislative session. Every major pari-mutuel has been activating their dormant permits due to widespread expectations that lawmakers will revoke the permits during the upcoming session.

“Our request to exercise the permit has been granted. Gulfstream will run one Quarter Horse race on Dec. 31 before our thoroughbred program.”

Ritvo added that “a high-level executive from the Stronach Group met with members of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) Thursday to discuss the matter and was hoping to continue talks through Saturday to insure the horsemen this wasn’t being done to disrupt Thoroughbred racing. Unfortunately, members of the FHBPA were unavailable.

“The Stronach Group remains committed to not only preserving Thoroughbred racing but allowing it to thrive,” said Ritvo. “No purse money from the Thoroughbred meet will be used for the quarter horse race. The purse money will come out of a separate account.”

According to United Florida Horsemen, Gulfstream is authorized for 2,000 slot machines through its existing Thoroughbred permit, though it currently has just 860 machines in operation, each generating a daily “win” of $151 – lower than casino industry standards.

The common thread that runs from the smelly Gretna license all the way to Hallandale is a fellow named Marc Dunbar. He’s part of the Gretna management group and is a lobbyist for Gulfstream Park who understands the Florida gambling law loopholes as well as anyone. Gov. Rick Scott expressed outrage over the loopholes and recently chided the state legislature to close them. But you can bet dollars to doughnuts that people like Dunbar will be working overtime to “get while the getting is good.” 

 

 

U.S. Department of Justice Legal Opinion Reverses Opposition to Online Gambling: The New York Times Edward Wyatt Reports

December 24, 2011

Ruling by Justice Dept. Opens a Door on Online Gambling

By

www.NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has reversed its long-held opposition to many forms of Internet gambling, removing a big legal obstacle for states that want to sanction online gambling to help fix their budget deficits.

The legal opinion, issued by the department’s office of legal counsel in September but made public on Friday, came in response to requests by New York and Illinois to clarify whether the Wire Act of 1961, which prohibits wagering over telecommunications systems that cross state or national borders, prevented those states from using the Internet to sell lottery tickets to adults within their own borders.

Although the opinion dealt specifically with lottery tickets, it opened the door for states to allow Internet poker and other forms of online betting that do not involve sports. Many states are interested in online gambling as a way to raise tax revenue.

New York has offered an online subscription service since 2005 that allows state residents to enter a string of Lotto or Mega Millions drawings.

The director of the New York Lottery, Gordon Medenica, said Saturday that the lottery had built a broader online gaming system for New York, but that the contractor that put the system together was wary about moving forward because it feared it could get into legal trouble.

“We’ve been waiting for a couple years,” Mr. Medenica said in a telephone interview. “We’re thrilled that this ruling has now come down and confirmed that our legal analysis was correct all along.”

As a result of the new policy, New York Lottery officials said they planned to add two additional jackpot games, Powerball and Sweet Million, to its current online lottery subscription service, and would allow New York residents to buy single-draw tickets online for the first time.

Mr. Medenica said it would take several months for the lottery to finalize the new offerings, and he said officials would “take a very cautious initial approach” in rolling out additional online options.

Michael Jones, the superintendent of the Illinois Lottery, said the request for clarification was prompted by research the state commissioned several years ago that indicated online sales could drive up participation. “When you look at the Internet, which is what everybody uses these days to buy everything, it seemed like a very, very logical thing to use the Internet to increase the player base,” Mr. Jones said. “States were in dire financial problems — the ability to use the lottery to raise revenue in a nontax way was a significant thing for states to do.”

He also said that online sales would enable the lottery to regulate purchases. “Right now we can’t guard against someone walking into a lottery retailer and buying too many tickets and behaving excessively,” Mr. Jones said. “Now with credit card purchases, we can guard against excessive play.”

Illinois could begin selling lottery tickets online in as soon as three months, he said.

The District of Columbia and Nevada have both approved limited forms of Internet gambling, and New Jersey has been considering legislation allowing sports betting and other forms of Internet gambling.

Steven Grossman, the Massachusetts state treasurer and the chairman of the state’s Lottery Commission, called the opinion a “turbocharged opportunity to engage new markets.”

“This will put additional pressure on Congress and others to allow online poker and other Internet gambling,” Mr. Grossman said.

Estimates of the size of the online gambling industry vary widely, from as low as $6 billion to as high as $100 billion. But even at the lower end, Mr. Grossman said, “that’s tens of billions of dollars that goes offshore.”

In a separate request in July, Senators Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, and Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, asked the Justice Department to clarify its position on Internet gambling, seeking either to affirm that federal law prohibits gambling over the Internet or to make sure that Congress has a role in drafting any expansion of online betting.

In a reply letter that was also issued Friday, the Justice Department said that while the new policy “differs from the department’s previous interpretation of the Wire Act, it reflects the department’s position in Congressional testimony at the time the Wire Act was passed in 1961.”

The new policy merely reverses the Justice Department’s longstanding position that all forms of online gambling are illegal in the United States. It does not necessarily pave the way for national rules governing online gambling.

But experts in gambling law said Saturday that the new policy does imply that states can band together to allow gambling across state borders. The exception would be online sports betting, which is explicitly prohibited under federal law.

“The next step,” said Mark Hichar, a partner and head of the gaming law group at the law firm Edwards Wildman in Boston, “could be for states to enter into compacts with each other to have interstate Internet wagering,” as some do now for horse racing.

The decision was cheered by states that have been contemplating gambling for the first time. But some gambling interest groups, like the American Gaming Association, which represents casino operators and makers of gambling equipment, said the opinion makes clear the need for a federal law establishing consistent regulatory standards.

“This is quite a Christmas present,” said I. Nelson Rose, a distinguished senior professor at Whittier Law School and a consultant to gambling companies and governments. “It says, ‘Keep it in your state and it’s legal.’ Given the continuing budget crisis, and so many states looking for ways to raise money, it’s really a major decision.”

Virginia A. Seitz, an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel, wrote in the opinion that the prohibition in the Wire Act of using interstate communications for gambling applies only to betting on a “sporting event or contest.”

As long as the gambling operator and the customer are within the same state, the opinion says, and the betting activity does not include sporting events, a state’s own laws apply. Another federal law, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, made it illegal for financial institutions to process payments for online wagers.

Taken together, the two laws allowed the Justice Department to invoke its authority over interstate communications as a means of blocking all Internet gambling.

Online gambling has been a focus in the Justice Department for years, but it burst into public view in April, when federal prosecutors charged the operators of three of the most popular online poker sites with fraud and money laundering.

The three sites, Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker, are based in Antigua and the Isle of Man, where online gambling is legal. That had made it difficult for American authorities to crack down on the operations, which had millions of United States customers.

But the Justice Department charged that the companies had used United States banks to process their transactions, violating the 2006 law that governed payment processing.

Those payment restrictions do not apply to transactions within a single state, however. With the ruling that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting, the way is clear for in-state online poker and other games.

Some gambling experts believed that the Justice Department’s position that the Wire Act prevented any Internet gambling conflicted with a federal appeals court decision, and therefore the new opinion simply confirmed what was already law.

But states have been reluctant to rely on the appeals court decision, handed down in 2002 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, because, in addition to the Justice Department’s continued crackdown, other federal and state court opinions offered conflicting directions.

The Justice Department previously tried to crack down on Internet gambling by going after companies that facilitated advertising for the gambling sites. In December 2007, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo paid a combined $31.5 million to settle federal charges that they promoted illegal gambling by serving ads for the gambling operations to other Web sites.

Elizabeth A. Harris, Thomas Kaplan and Sarah Maslin Nir contributed reporting from New York.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/us/online-gaming-loses-obstacle-at-justice-department.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=%22Wire%20act%22&st=cse

Florida Horsemen’s President Phil Combest Says It’s “Absurd” That Gulfstream Park Fears Losing its Quarter Horse Permit; Track Still Not Forthcoming on Secret Horsemen’s Association or Where Alleged Quarter Horses Will Come From: Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch Reports

Gulfstream to run Quarter Horse race on New Year’s Eve

 

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Gulfstream Park has been granted legislative approval to exercise a dormant nonprofit Quarter Horse license and is hoping to run one Quarter Horse race prior to its regularly scheduled Thoroughbred program on Saturday, Dec. 31.

“We were advised by counsel that if we didn’t exercise the permit now there was a possibility of losing it during the upcoming legislative session,” said Ritvo. “Every major parimutuel facility in the state has been activating their dormant permits due to widespread expectations that lawmakers will revoke them. To meet the requirements of the nonprofit license, we must run one extra race on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, only one of which has to be for Quarter Horses.”

Ritvo said the long-range purpose of activating the Quarter Horse permit was that it could ultimately lead to Gulfstream being able to double its current allotment of 2,000 slot machines as well as add a second card room at the facility. He said the decision to exercise the long standing license came quickly and plans have not been completely finalized regarding the Dec. 31 Quarter Horse event.

“This really just fell into our lap on Tuesday,” said Ritvo. “A high level executive from the Stronach Group met with members of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association on Thursday to discuss the matter and was hoping to continue talks with the group Saturday to insure them this wasn’t done to disrupt Thoroughbred racing. The Stronach Group is under direct orders from Frank Stronach that Thoroughbred racing should survive and thrive at Gulfstream Park.”

But Phil Combest, president of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said the Gulfstream horsmen are opposed to allowing the track to run the Quarter Horse race. Representatives from Gulfstream and the HBPA plan to talk Wednesday to try and allay the horsemen’s concerns.

“The horsemen are still completely opposed to this whole thing for a number of reasons,” said Combest. “For example, what are the simulcast and ADW implications of running a Quarter Horse race at Gulfstream Park, among other things? Gulfstream says they are doing this for fear of losing the permit at the next legislative session. That’s absurd. The state would never revoke a not-for-profit permit.”

Ritvo said it’s still unclear where the horses will come from to fill the race on Dec. 31. A Quarter Horse meeting is currently being conducted at nearby Hialeah Park. Post time for the race is expected to be set at noon.

“At the moment we have no plans as to where we’ll get the horses for this race or what the purse will be although after holding a preliminary discussion with Racing Secretary Dan Bork, it is likely the purse will be somewhere in the range of $10,000 to $15,000. Whatever that purse may be, none of the money will come out of the Thoroughbred purse fund.”