Florida Senate’s New Gaming Committee Must Contemplate Dire Economic Cost of Phony Horse Events Enabling Statewide Slot Machine Proliferation

Florida Senate Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter
Above:  Senate President Pro Tempore Garrett Richter will guide the Florida Senate’s newly created Gaming Committee in 2013

Note:  The first meeting of the new Senate Gaming Committee, originally scheduled for December 3, 2012, has been canceled.

It was announced on November 28, 2012, that the Florida Senate’s newly created Gaming Committee will be chaired by Senate President Pro Tempore Garrett Richter.  Senator Maria Sachs will serve as Vice Chair.

  • Information on the Senate Gaming Committee and its membership is reprinted below.

Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling, who represents nearly 6,000 Florida Thoroughbred horsemen, said of the new Committee: 

“The 104,000 people employed by Florida’s $2.2 billion dollar horse racing industry congratulates Senator Richter, Senator Sachs and all the members of this important new Committee.

“As Senators begin their careful study of the facts surrounding Florida’s convoluted gambling laws and regulations, it is critical to know that the statewide rush to hold county slot machine referendums has been largely fueled over the past year by the use of phony, contrived horse-related events such as ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ and copycat hybrids deliberately designed to skirt both state and federal law at the expense of our livelihoods.

“These phony events—brand new gambling products that were allowed with no enabling legislation, regulatory hearings or public input—exploit the fact that Florida has no legal definition of ‘horse race.’

“Not even real barrel racing or horse racing, these illegitimate events have been fabricated by rogue pari-mutuel permitholders and their casino interests to purposefully eliminate the thousands of competitive horses and 104,000 documented Florida jobs they annually create in Florida’s legitimate Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and Standardbred racing and breeding industry, while enabling these facilities to be licensed for cardrooms and—if ultimately allowed by the Legislature—slot machines.

“Hence the statewide rush by counties such as Gadsden, Hamilton and Washington to hedge their bets this year with speculative slot referendums.

“Because Florida law requires live racing in order to hold ancillary gaming activities, facility owners —some of them out-of-state tribal gaming corporations—see Gretna Racing LLC’s “pari-mutuel barrel racing” model as an opportunity to not only curtail the expense of jobs that would normally be created by legitimate horse racing, but to hoard the resulting profits that would otherwise be distributed in purses through independent horsemen’s associations.

Florida Senate Committee on Gaming


Senator Garrett Richter (R)
Vice Chair:
Senator Maria Lorts Sachs (D)


  • John Guthrie, Staff Director

2013 Meeting Records

12/03/2012 03:00 PM Meeting NoticeMeeting Canceled

How a parimutuel is defined may play a role in new slot machine law in Florida, Examiner.com’s Adam Sinclair reports in “Elections Examiner”

NOVEMBER 7, 2012
After yesterday'sapproval of expanded slot machines in Florida, perhaps scenes such as this one from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will become the norm throughout the state.
After yesterday’sapproval of expanded slot machines in Florida, perhaps scenes such as this one from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will become the norm throughout the state.
Credits:  Ethan Miller/Getty Images


On Tuesday, November 6, voters in Palm Beach County, as well as other counties across the state, approved ballot measures allowing slot machines to be placed in parimutuel facilities in the county. Under the previous law, gamblers could only legally battle the one-armed bandit in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, as well as at the several Native American owned casinos throughout the state.

To view the complete story, click here.


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Some Florida Counties’ Slot Machine Votes Based on Phony Horse-Related Events, Florida’s $2.2 Billion Horse Racing Industry Reminds

November 6, 2012—With residents in various Florida counties voting today on whether or not to allow slot machines within their boundaries, should it soon be authorized, leaders of Florida’s Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and Standardbred industry noted that similar ballot questions taken earlier this year in counties such as Gadsden and Hamilton, have been wholly based upon pari-mutuels’ use of phony, contrived horse-related events designed to skirt Florida’s requirements for live racing in order to qualify for slot machines.

As documented in national reports, an increasing number of Florida pari-mutuels have misused their state-granted gambling permits to hold events that are not only afoul of state and federal law, but are deliberately designed to destroy jobs by eliminating the need for horses and competitors in Florida’s $2.2 billion horse racing industry, which employs over 104,000 people annually.  Florida’s Thoroughbred racing industry alone employs over 51,000.

“While slot revenue has helped maintain Florida’s purse competitiveness with other states, casinos have become emboldened by nefarious schemes like Gretna Racing’s ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ and copycat ‘flag drops’ that are structured to not only yield as little revenue as possible (in order to qualify for even more slot machines), but are aimed directly at eliminating horses and the jobs they create,” said Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling,  “Under the ‘Gretna Model,’ slot money accrues directly to casino owners, and not out into the Florida economy as it was originally intended through legitimate, live horse racing.”

An administrative court ruling has been delayed on whether “pari-mutuel barrel racing” was allowed as a brand new gambling product in Florida without enabling legislation, regulatory hearings or public input.  Followed by cancellation of “races” even though poker and cardrooms have been allowed to stay open 365 days a year, wagering on this unrecognized event has sunk as low as $24 a day.

Florida’s horse industry ranks among the top three states nationally.  Ocala-Bred Thoroughbreds dominated this year’s Breeders’ Cup—the Super Bowl of Thoroughbred Racing.

In additional testament to the strength of Florida’s breeding industry, a Florida-based Thoroughbred breeder purchased 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace this week for $10 million dollars.