Prominent Anti-Gambling Advocate “No Casinos” Notes Florida Regulators’ “Nose-Thumbing” at Stern Court Ruling on Phony Horse Racing

Prominent Anti-Gambling Advocate “No Casinos” Notes Florida Regulators’ “Nose-Thumbing” at Stern Court Ruling on Phony Horse Racing

Prominent Anti-Gambling Advocate “No Casinos” Notes Florida Regulators’ “Nose-Thumbing” at Stern Court Ruling on Phony Horse Racing

  • To see United Florida Horsemen’s message to the Governor this week, click here.

In a strongly-worded news release issued this week, June 24, 2013, “No Casinos,” a prominent anti-gambling advocacy group, noted that the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has essentially “thumbed its nose” at the judge who recently ruled that pari-mutuel wagering on phony horse racing cannot be sanctioned or conducted under current law.

To view the No Casinos news release, click here.

Just days after the court sternly ruled that “pari-mutuel barrel racing” and similarly contrived events run afoul of Florida law, the Division issued yet another such license to Gretna Racing, LLC, after its representatives—the very same attorneys who intervened in the administrative case attempting to defend the Division’s unlawful actions —had sent threatening letters to Florida regulators objecting to enforcement of the judge’s ruling.  Within hours, Florida’s regulators caved.

“The Division is siding with those who want to cleverly skirt the laws – rather than enforcing the full letter and spirit of those laws,” said No Casinos President John Sowinski. “It is time for Secretary Lawson to step in and cancel these licenses before this leads to another un-checked proliferation of gambling like we saw for too long with Internet Cafés.”

Initially, it seemed as though the State would honor the judge’s scathing 85-page rebuke of Gretna’s activities by allowing only legitimate quarter horse racing.  But now, the State appears committed to giving Gretna yet another free pass.

“What’s worse,” Sowinski continued, “it’s clear that operators at Gretna don’t care if anybody even watches the races.  They just want them to take place in order to try to meet the technical requirements of hosting more lucrative forms of gambling, including simulcast, cardrooms, and they hope one day, slot machines.

Normally, the market introduction of any new gambling product would be enabled with the passage of legislation, followed by subsequent regulatory hearings in which public input would be provided and considered.  With “pari-mutuel barrel racing” and its offspring, such as the bootleg racing Gretna conducted this past weekend with the State’s full blessing, none of that process has occurred.

“Florida’s $2.2 billion dollar horse racing industry creates 104,000 documented annual Florida jobs,” explained representatives from the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, which prevailed in the case.  “Governor Scott has committed to getting Floridians back to work by promoting Florida business the cornerstone of his administration.  Now, we need him to hold true to that vision by putting a stop to this outrageous sidestep of Florida law that doing just the opposite by putting our Florida horsemen and breeders out of work.”

 

 

 

Read more about this issue at  www.FloridaHorsemen.com

 

Gretna “Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing” Awarded Mystery License

Announcing “business as usual,” Gretna Racing LLC (“Gretna”) applied for and has received an amended racing license from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering yesterday, June 6, 2013, that authorized it to conduct back-to-back weekends of mysterious and unspecified “quadruple-header” events this month on June 22 and 29.

In the wake of a court ruling against Gretna last month concluding that “pari-mutuel barrel racing” was illegal, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering ordered the North Florida facility not to conduct the contrived event, which was judged to be a definitive sidestep around Florida’s live horse racing requirements in order to enable Gretna to concurrently hold cardrooms and possibly slot machines.

But, in a snub to the court’s sharply worded 85-page ruling, Gretna immediately and publicly announced it would simply “tweak” the format of its spurious activities and continue on with its self-crafted events, which are not even sanctioned as legitimate barrel racing by the National Barrel Racing Association and other longstanding national organizations.

“Especially in light of the court ruling last month and the pending legislative gaming study underway, the public deserves transparency on the exact details of what is now taking place at Gretna’s facility,” said Kent Stirling, Executive Director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA), a statutory statewide organization of Florida Thoroughbred owners and trainers that joined with the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association (FTBOA) in supporting the FQHRA throughout the recent litigation.

“We have seen no indications of any construction taking place on a regulation Quarter Horse racetrack,” said Dr. Steve Fisch, president of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA), which prevailed in last month’s landmark case. The FQHRA is Florida’s statutory arm of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), a national organization with 350,000 members worldwide that ensures proper racing regulation and safe, humane treatment of the horses involved.

“According to amended Gretna license, it appears they are holding eight ‘performances’ held over two Saturdays.  Bearing in mind that a Florida defines a ‘performance’ as eight individual ‘races,’ this means four days’ worth of performances are held in the afternoon and evening of one day.  Normally and historically, eight performances take place over eight different days,” explained Dr. Fisch, a nationally recognized equine veterinarian.

“A major concern is if the horses are performing more than once per day, then the health of the horse and, hence, that of the rider are both at risk,” Dr. Fisch added.  “In American Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing, horses race no more than once every fourteen days on average.  Six to eight races per year is an average schedule for a racehorse.   Knowing this, the health and welfare of the horse and rider should always be first and foremost to Florida’s pari-mutuel permitholders.  This is why it’s imperative that an independent group knowledgeable in equine health and welfare must represent horses and horsemen alike.  The FHBPA, FQHRA, AQHA and FTBOA are all established, respected groups that have proven they hold horses’ health as a major criteria on all fronts.”

FQHRA President Dr. Stephen D. Fisch, DVM

“We have seen no indications of any construction taking place on a regulation Quarter Horse racetrack at Gretna’s facility,” said Dr. Steve Fisch, FQHRA president

While Gretna’s cardrooms continued to operate, wagering on Gretna’s “pari-mutuel barrel racing” has been recorded as low as $24 per day and contests there have often been canceled due to lack of interest. Just several months after the initial license was awarded with which “pari-mutuel barrel racing” was conducted, Gadsden County, in which the City of Gretna is located, approved the holding of a referendum to install slot machines at the Gretna Racing facility.

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Will Not Appeal May 6, 2013 “Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing” Ruling

State of Florida Will Not Appeal May 6, 2013 “Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing” Ruling

Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation will not appeal a month-old ruling in a long-running lawsuit over “pari-mutuel barrel racing” at Gretna Racing, LLC, (“Gretna”) the United Florida Horsemen learned on June 6, 2013.
 
Since that May 6 ruling, the State of Florida has advised Gretna and Hamilton Downs Jai Alai and Poker, another pari-mutuel permitholder holding similar activities, that both must conduct legitimate horse racing in order to maintain their cardrooms—and possibly slot machines—according to Florida law.
  
Normally, the market introduction of any new gambling product would be enabled with the passage of legislation, followed by subsequent regulatory hearings in which public input would be provided and considered.  With “pari-mutuel barrel racing,” none of that process had occurred, thus spawning the administrative litigation.
 
“We salute Governor Scott and our pari-mutuel regulators for upholding the integrity of the law toward much-needed clarity in Florida’s pari-mutuel statutes,” said Dr. Steve Fisch, President of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA), which prevailed in the case.  “We have legions of prominent national horsemen and breeders who have been waiting for a positive outcome so they can set up shop in Florida.  After our members drained their hard-earned savings to fight this seemingly endless battle over what was essentially a get-rich-quick scheme, we are hopeful that today’s decision by regulators not to appeal assures Florida’s horsemen that the State really does want to keep and grow its long-held title as a top international horse racing destination.”
 
Meanwhile, co-owners of Gretna—both prominent pari-mutuel lobbyist-lawyers who concurrently litigated the case as “intervenors” on behalf of the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering—filed a notice of appeal earlier this week under a self-owned association name, adding to the turmoil of several still-pending lawsuits directly related to the May 6 “pari-mutuel barrel racing” ruling.  
 
“Each of these yet-to-be-adjudicated spurious lawsuits has been cleverly designed to decimate Florida’s horse racing industry by supporting the premise of phony events that have clearly now been ruled as illegal,” said Kent Stirling, Executive Director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA), a statutory statewide organization of Florida Thoroughbred owners and trainers that joined with the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association (FTBOA) in supporting the FQHRA.
 
“We are confident that Gretna’s co-owners have no standing to appeal the May 6 ruling,” Stirling added.
 
But, as the “pari-mutuel barrel racing” case dragged on for nearly two years, yet-existing “Gretna hybrids” and offshoot regulatory schemes devised to capitalize on the “Gretna model” have emerged and remain throughout Florida at various pari-mutuels, and even at leased facilities—all with the intention of sidestepping legitimate, live horse racing.
 
“Horse racing creates over 104,000 documented annual jobs in Florida, and we, together with the Florida Thoroughbred horsemen and our many partners, including the National Barrel Horse Association, have weathered this spurious litigation to protect them,” said Dr. Fisch.  “For each Florida pari-mutuel permit that has been misused during these past few years, thousands of horse racing and breeding jobs and businesses that would have otherwise been created have never had a chance to materialize.  It is the horsemen’s hope that, going forward, these permits will be used as the people of Florida intended—to create the kind of positive economic impact that only legitimate horse racing can bring.”
 
While Gretna’s cardrooms continued to operate, wagering on Gretna’s “pari-mutuel barrel racing” was recorded as low as $24 per day and contests there were often canceled due to lack of interest.  Just several months after the initial license was awarded with which “pari-mutuel barrel racing” was conducted, Gadsden County, in which the City of Gretna is located, approved the holding of a referendum to install slot machines at the Gretna Racing facility.