For Now, “Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing” Qualifies Gretna Racing LLC For Slots

THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA’s Dara Kam reported on May 29, 2015:   “In what could be a game changer in Florida’s gambling arena, an appeals court today ordered state regulators to allow slot machines at a Gadsden County racetrack . . . “

The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association is disappointed that the First District Court of Appeal ruled on May 29, 2015 in favor of allowing slot machines at Gretna Racing LLC.  We are hopeful that the Florida Attorney General will continue in her efforts.

During the span of December 2011 to January 2012, Gretna Racing LLC leveraged “pari-mutuel barrel racing” to convince the Gadsden County Commission to hold a slot referendum on January 31, 2012.

Given that three court rulings have held that “pari-mutuel barrel racing” was not even real barrel racing, but wrongly approved as a new gambling product by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering with no legislative authorization, regulatory hearings or public input, the FHBPA strongly questions whether a slot license legally can, or or should be granted to Gretna Racing LLC, or any similar permit that has used horse-related events in a manner afoul of the “pari-mutuel barrel racing” court rulings.

Further, for every pari-mutuel permit that has since been used in this manner to gain a 365-day per year card room, slot referendum or otherwise, there have been thousands of Florida horsemen’s jobs lost that would otherwise have been created if accredited and legitimate horse racing would have been required in these locations.

We urge General Bondi to strive to preserve one of Florida’s foremost economic generators–its world-renowned Thoroughbred horse racing industry, as well as its rapidly growing Quarter Horse racing industry.

This is a good opportunity to remind that the purpose of state-sanctioned gambling is to increase tax revenues and economic impact, not to create the optimal atmosphere for out-of-state casinos or otherwise untaxed profits on the backs of horsemen’s small businesses.

To read news coverage by Dara Kam of THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA, click HERE.

Gambling regulators at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation rejected Gretna Racing’s request for slot machines late in 2013, relying in part on an opinion issued by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office represented the agency in the First DCA lawsuit.

Gretna Racing has since conducted “flag drop” events, which are not approved, accredited or sanctioned in any way by theFlorida Quarter Horse Racing Association, which is the Florida Chapter of the American Quarter Horse Association.

Florida Thoroughbred Breeding Industry CEO Speaks at Senate Gaming Committee Today After Florida-Bred “Mucho Macho Man’s” Weekend Victory in Horse Racing Super Bowl

Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association CEO Testifies Before the Florida Senate Gaming Committee

FTBOA’s Lonny Powell: “Thoroughbred people with major investments in the industry don’t like being treated like potted plants”

Less than 48 hours after a thrilling victory in the Super Bowl of Thoroughbred racing by Florida-bred horse “Mucho Macho Man,” the CEO of Florida’s Thoroughbred breeding industry will speak before the Florida Senate Gaming Committee at its third public hearing on the Spectrum Gaming Study today, November 4.

Lonny Powell, a former horse racing regulator now CEO of the powerful Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, works closely with the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (Florida Thoroughbred owners and trainers, “FHBPA”), the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders and Owners Association on legislative and regulatory issues affecting the groups statewide.

“It’s fitting that Lonny speak to our Senators today, right on the heels of a Florida-bred having won the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic this weekend–the Super Bowl of Thoroughbred racing,” said FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling.  “Were it any other sport, today would be a day warranting a ticker-tape parade in Tallahassee, over which Lonny would be appropriately presiding as Grand Marshal.”

Powell is scheduled to speak today during the Florida Senate Gaming Committee public hearing in Tallahassee, the third edition of which drew a much smaller slate of speakers than the previous hearings.  To view the list of speakers, click here.

“It’s time for Florida’s elected officials to recognize our horse racing and breeding industry–an engine that moves enormous sums of money and commerce throughout the world–with Florida’s agribusiness backbone providing jobs and fueling business well beyond the substantially more limited promise of a casino-only scenario,” Stirling explained.

Today’s hearing runs from noon until 3 p.m. and will be webcast live on www.TheFloridaChannel.org.

Mucho Macho Man, who was bred at Adena Springs South in Ocala, garnered major worldwide media acclaim on behalf of his birth state of Florida.  Some of the headlines are below:

Washington Post:  Mucho Macho Man holds on to win Breeders’ Cup Classic in photo finish

USA Today:  Breeders’ Cup Classic win caps magic month for Mucho Macho Man

Chicago Tribune:  Mucho Macho Man gives trainer a win to savour

ESPN:  Mucho Macho Man wins by nose

Calder Casino Operating Slot Machines in Miami-Dade Without Statutory Purse Agreement, Florida Horsemen Advise

Casino and Race Course (Calder) received a slot machine license from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (Division) on July 2, 2013 without first fulfilling a statutory requisite, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) advised the Miami-Dade-based racetrack officials in a letter sent yesterday, July 16, 2013.  Calder has been operating its slot machines in that manner since then.

To view a copy of the July 2, 2013 slot license issued to Calder, click here:  Calder Slot License Issued July 2, 2013

Calder Casino and Race Course (Calder) received a slot machine license from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (Division) on July 2, 2013 without first fulfilling a statutory requisite, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) advised the Miami-Dade-based racetrack officials in a letter sent yesterday, July 16, 2013.

Click to Enlarge: Florida Horsemen Advise Calder Casino That it is Operating Miami-Dade Slot Machines Without Statutory Purse Agreement

Under Florida law, the Division must have on file a binding agreement between any Thoroughbred pari-mutuel permitholder and the FHBPA that governs the payment of purses on live Thoroughbred races at the permitholder’s pari-mutuel facility before awarding or renewing a license to operate slot machines.

Calder’s slot license was renewed, even though no such agreement presently exists.

“In its attempt to demonstrate legal compliance, Calder submitted something altogether different to the Division, which, in turn, awarded the license anyway,” FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling explained.  “It’s pretty clear that everyone involved knew that Calder never signed an actual purse contract with the FHBPA, nor did anyone check with us to ask whether they did.”

§551.104(10)(a), Fla. Stats. provides in pertinent part:

“No slot machine license or renewal thereof shall be issued to an applicant holding a permit under chapter 550 to conduct pari-mutuel wagering meets of thoroughbred racing unless the applicant has on file with the division a binding written agreement between the applicant and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Inc., governing the payment of purses on live thoroughbred races conducted at the licensee’s pari-mutuel facility.”

The FHBPA Board of Directors voted on Monday, July 15 to withdraw its consent to Calder’s simulcasting effective July 25, 2013, and to take any appropriate additional action should Calder not finalize a statutory purse agreement by that time.

“Purse negotiations have been ongoing with Calder officials since last year,” FHBPA President Phil Combest.  “After months of good faith efforts by the FHBPA, the fact that Calder would receive and operate its slot license is a complete slap in the face to our horsemen and their many businesses that depend upon quality live horse racing to keep people employed.”

www.FloridaHorsemen.com

FTBOA’s Lonny Powell on GPTARP: “Thoroughbred people with major investments in the industry don’t like being treated like potted plants”

GPTARP Thoroughbred race deemed illegal

The race was run under the thoroughbred license of the Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Retirement Program, a non-profit subsidiary of The Stronach Group, which also owns Gulfstream Park. Frank Stronach, a major Marion County landowner, is chairman of the group.

FTBOA’s Lonny Powell: “Thoroughbred people with major investments in the industry don’t like being treated like potted plants”

www.Ocala.com

By Carlos E. Medina
Correspondent

Published: Monday, July 15, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.

A 150-yard thoroughbred race run July 1 at Gulfstream Park was held illegally, according to a complaint filed by the Florida Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering.

The race came as a surprise to most in South Florida racing circles, as well as to the Ocala-based board members of the organization that held the race. The race featured three horses that sprinted 150 yards on the part of the Gulfstream track that lies in Miami-Dade County.

The race was run under the thoroughbred license of the Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Retirement Program, a non-profit subsidiary of The Stronach Group, which also owns Gulfstream Park. Frank Stronach, a major Marion County landowner, is chairman of the group.

The administrative complaint by the state alleges the retirement program was required to hold at least two races and did not inform the state of the race at least 10 days prior to its running, as required by law. The complaint seeks to fine the program $1,000 or suspend or revoke its racing permit.

Lonny Powell, executive vice president and CEO of the Ocala-based Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, said the race was planned without the inclusion of the four association members on the Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Retirement Program board.

“We started insisting about a year ago that GPTARP needed to start treating it like a proper business, with open discussions among board members. Our representatives on the board were never included in a single meeting until we demanded one a couple of months ago. There was a definite understanding that there would be no more surprises, so you can understand the shock we got when a few weeks later this thing happens,” Powell said.

Association members on the program board are J. Michael O’Farrell Jr., Fred Brei, Brent Fernung and Phil Matthews.

“By statute, the FTBOA has four seats on the board. Those members are thoroughbred people with major investments in the industry and they don’t like being treated like potted plants,” Powell said. “They are not figureheads, they are not phantom board members. That has been communicated clearly.”

No one from Gulfstream or the Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Retirement Program could be reached for comment.

The endgame for the race was an attempt to add more casino-style slot machines to the facility using the retirement program license. The move by the organization was criticized for its making a mockery of racing well before the state filed its complaint.

Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents owners and trainers who race at both Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park in South Florida, lamented what some were doing to the sport in order to gain other types of gambling, including card rooms and casino-style slot machines.

Vagaries in the laws led to the state allowing pari-mutuel barrel racing at Gretna Racing in 2011. Earlier this year, an administrative law judge ruled the state overstepped its authority by allowing what amounted to a new form of racing. In gaining the initial license, representatives for Gretna, including Gretna stakeholder Marc Dunbar, argued to the state that the law did not explicitly define racing. Dunbar was also part of the Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Retirement Program race. Dunbar, a longtime Tallahassee lobbyist for Gulfstream, could not be reached for comment.

“They have been getting some very poor advice on how to conduct this thing. I know Mr. Stronach well. I used to work for him. I know this is not the way he would truly want to be conducting business,” Powell said. “It’s supposed to be about the racing of thoroughbreds, not putting on some cheap facade to circumvent the investment which goes into racing to gain other forms of gaming.”

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Gulfstream Park’s unusual GPTARP slots petition has Florida horsemen wary, Daily Racing Form’s Matt Hegarty Reports

Daily Racing Form Reports on Florida Thoroughbred Horse Racing

An unusual regulatory petition is stirring confusion among Florida horsemen and breeders who do not know whether the request to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering  indicates an attempt by GPTARP, as it is known, to conduct an end-run around legal requirements for a binding agreement with the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA).

“GPTARP,” the acronym for “Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Retirement Program,” is the new name for Gulfstream’s decades-old Quarter Horse permit, which was converted this past February 2013 into a Thoroughbred permit.

Last year, “GPTARP,” a non-profit entity, also sought to be declared as the lowest pari-mutuel revenue generator for a certain time period, so as to secure a “Summer Jai Alai” permit that would then, in turn, allow it to re-apply for another Quarter Horse permit.  The State of Florida turned down the request,  which was based on a phony “race” staged on April 8, 2012, featuring two Gretna “Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing” women dressed up as jockeys and mounted on aged horses of questionable breeding that were bedecked in Western-style saddles.  The horses, one of which had been entered the same day as the “race,” were started at the drop of a flag.  Shockingly, wagering was offered on the event, which had not even been sanctioned by the American Quarter Horse Association as being a legitimate Quarter Horse race.  To round out GPTARP’s “meet,” a Thoroughbred race at Gulfstream on December 31, 2011 had been run under the GPTARP permit (likely unbeknownst to the entries’ connections).  It is predicated on these two “races” that GPTARP’s 2,000 slot machines would be installed, if allowed.

Also a remaining question is whether the GPTARP permit is domiciled in Miami-Dade or Broward.  The case is mired in administrative litigation.  Certainly, the actual location of GPTARP’s address given in the March 7, 2013 petition is troubling, with its “corporate offices” located on or off Gulfstream’s property, depending upon the source consulted.  According to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser, the address does not exist.

But Tim Ritvo, general manager of Gulfstream Park, said horsemen have no reason to fear the plans of GPTARP.  He said that under a contract the track reached with horsemen earlier this year “they are guaranteed a share of any revenue from slot machines if we exercise the permit.” The contract runs for at least 25 years, Ritvo said.

So why is GPTARP seeking clarification of the statute regarding the requirement to have an agreement with horsemen and breeders?

Matt Hegarty of the Daily Racing Form reports here:  http://www.drf.com/news/gulfstream-park-slots-petition-has-horsemen-wary 

Spectrum Gaming Group Selected For Comprehensive Legislative Gaming Study, Florida Horsemen Note

Florida’s Legislature announced today, April 16, 2013, that it has signed a contract with Spectrum Gaming Group to complete a comprehensive study on Florida’s gaming-related issues.

“Spectrum Gaming has extensive experience in a variety of major horse racing and breeding states, including Kentucky, Louisiana, Illinois and Ohio,” remarked Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling.

“Florida’s professional racing horsemen are pleased that the message of our $2.2 billion annual statewide economic impact has apparently been heard,” Stirling added.  “Legitimate horse racing and breeding in Florida generates 104,000 documented jobs per year, and it is imperative that any public policy going forward reflects the enormous financial contributions of thousands of small businesses that are both directly and indirectly supported by Florida’s horse racing industry.”

The Legislature’s gaming study, which will be addressed in separate reports delivered in July and October 2013, will provide a comprehensive analysis of gaming market information, to include an assessment of the Florida gaming industry and its economic and social effects, an assessment of various potential changes in the gaming industry and their potential economic and social effects (including effects on other areas of the economy), and a statistical analysis of relationships between gaming and economic variables for communities.

The Legislature’s news release is reprinted below.

Florida Legislature Signs Contract for Gaming Study

Spectrum Gaming Group Selected to Complete Comprehensive Study on Gaming Issues

Tallahassee–The Florida House and Senate today announced the joint selection of Spectrum Gaming Group to complete a two-part study of gaming in Florida to assist the Legislature in better understanding the economic, fiscal, and social impacts of possible changes in Florida’s gaming environment.

“Spectrum has extensive experience in providing independent studies of gaming in a variety of jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Ohio,” said Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel). “I look forward to reviewing their report as we take a holistic view of the role gaming plays in Florida’s economy.”

The gaming study will provide a comprehensive analysis of gaming market information, to include: an assessment of the Florida gaming industry and its economic and social effects; an assessment of various potential changes in the gaming industry and their potential economic and social effects (including effects on other areas of the economy); and a statistical analysis of relationships between gaming and economic variables for communities.

“The Florida Lottery, Seminole casinos, and gaming activities at licensed pari-mutuel facilities generate substantial economic activity; however, the State’s management of these activities has been focused on piecemeal changes, not a comprehensive policy that integrates gaming into the broader Florida economy,” said Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville). “This study will help House and Senate committees comprehensively examine gaming issues, including those that will affect the scheduled renegotiation of the Seminole Gaming Compact.”

“Spectrum is honored by this selection, as we realize the importance of this study to Florida’s policymakers in so many ways, from the future of its tourism industry to the quality of life for its citizens,” said Michael Pollock, Spectrum Gaming Group’s Managing Director.

The gaming study is divided into sub-parts, which will be addressed in separate reports delivered in July and October. The total cost of the two-part gaming study is $388,845. A complete description of the scope of work is contained at pages 11-13 of the Invitation to Negotiate, which can be found via the Gaming Study Home Page.

Spectrum’s project team includes: Dr. Howard Shaffer, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Division on Addiction at The Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate; Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI); Doug Walker, Associate Professor of Economics at the College of Charleston; and, Lori Pennington-Gray, Associate Director of the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute at the University of Florida.

Procurement Process

The Legislature conducted a competitive procurement process to select a vendor. An Invitation to Negotiate was issued in February. Seven vendors submitted replies by the deadline. An evaluation team composed of House and Senate staff reviewed the proposals in detail and selected three vendors for continued negotiations (Spectrum Gaming Group, The Innovation Group, and MGT of America). After negotiations, House and Senate staff provided recommendations to the Speaker Weatherford and President Gaetz, respectively, regarding the selection of a vendor to provide the highest overall value to the Florida Legislature.

For more information on the gaming study and procurement process, please visit the Gaming Study Home Page located at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/GamingStudy

 

Legitimate Horse Racing Brings Jobs, Florida Business Investment, Positive Economic Impact in 2013

Florida Thoroughbred and accredited Quarter Horse Racing

Above: Fans of Legitimate Florida Horse Racing Pack Gulfstream Park

Record crowds, increased handle, growing purses, jobs, businesses and positive economic impact throughout Florida were the clear result of legitimate horse racing held at Gulfstream Park, Hialeah Park and Calder Race Course this year.  Florida’s horse breeding industry also produced the 2013 winner of the world’s richest race—the $10 Million Dubai World Cup.

At Gulfstream Park:  “The record crowd of 20,382 surpassed the previous attendance record in Gulfstream’s facility of 18,224 set last year on Florida Derby Day.  Total handle that day of $24.66 million eclipsed last year’s record of $24.61 million.  Total on-track handle was $4.36 million—up 7.1 per cent from last year.”

At Hialeah Park:  “The biggest advance in the racing was to increase our simulcast outlets from 400 to 500 during this past season . . . When our master plan is complete, we will have infused our local economy with approximately $1 billion in development dollars and provided over 3,000 jobs to South Florida-based entities and personnel.”

At Calder Race Course:  “(The) announcement that Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Trinniberg won the 2012 Eclipse Award as champion sprinter marked the fourth time in the last three years that a horse based primarily at Calder Casino & Race Course was presented with one of Thoroughbred racing’s most coveted awards.”

In Florida’s Breeding Industry:  “ . . . around the world in Dubai, Animal Kingdom won the world’s richest race, the $10 million Dubai World Cup.  The winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby, he was broken and trained by Randy Bradshaw at Adena Springs in Ocala.  The Derby victory also made his sire, Leroidesanimaux, famous.  Leroidesanimaux stands at Hallmarc Stallions at Stonewall Farms in Ocala for $22,500.”

“It’s clear, hard evidence that, with proper management, Florida horse racing is stronger than ever,” said Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling.  “Now is the time to fully understand that the scope of racing’s economic impact reaches far beyond the racetrack itself—from the thousands of small businesses that support racetrack operations, to Florida’s world-class agri-business breeding industry, tourism, real estate and many other positively impacted industries.”

As Florida’s Legislature works this year to illuminate gambling’s gray areas, however, a simple, yet insidious loophole remains:  With no definition of “horse race” on Florida’s law books, counties have rushed to hold slot referendums in the wake of “pari-mutuel barrel racing.”

Designed to exploit Florida’s requirement for slot machine licensees to hold live racing, “pari-mutuel barrel racing” led copycat to “races” being held with as few as two horses ridden by house-owned riders—instead of the thousands of independent competitors that would normally come to Florida for legitimate competition—thereby squelching the jobs, business and economic impact they otherwise create.  Meanwhile, the offending pari-mutuel permitholders quickly capitalized on the attendant bonus profits of 365-day cardrooms and their permits’ slot machine potential.

Emboldened, some pari-mutuels have started to define a “horse race” anyway they want, resulting in further decimation of legitimate Florida horse racing, the 104,000 annual jobs it creates and its resulting $2.2 billion statewide economic impact. 

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