United Florida Horsemen Note Addition of Destination Casino Bill Sponsor Erik Fresen to 2014 Florida House Gaming Committee

Florida House of Representatives Select Committee on Gaming

State Representative Erik Fresen was a primary sponsor of a 2012 bill that sought to bring destination casino resorts to Florida.

With this week’s August 14 Florida House of Representatives announcement of 2014 House Committee members, the United Florida Horsemen noted with interest the addition of State Representative Erik Fresen (R-Miami), along with three other new members to the House Select Committee on Gaming.

Representative Fresen was a primary sponsor of a 2012 bill that sought to bring destination casino resorts to Florida.

“In his efforts, Representative Fresen certainly approached the issue with considerable thought,” remarked Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) Executive Director Kent Stirling, who represents 6,000 horsemen who own and train Thoroughbred horses in the state of Florida.

The additional legislators assigned to the House Gaming Committee include former 2013 House Majority Leader/2014 State Affairs Chairman State Representative Steve Precourt (R-Orlando), State Representatives Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) and Jared Moskowitz (D-Coral Springs).

“Florida’s horsemen are optimistic that the addition of senior House members and bipartisan input will provide the perspective and additional experience needed to craft beneficial public policy that will help our members’ businesses and jobs thrive in Florida,” Stirling said.

A small portion of slot machine revenues from Miami-Dade and Broward racinos is used to augment prize money (purses) for which horsemen compete.  After watching horse owners and trainers being lured to other states that offered larger, slot-bolstered purses, Florida horsemen supported the introduction of slot machines into the state for the sole purpose of increasing purses to ensure Florida remained competitive in the national horse racing circuit.

“Naturally, it gravely concerns our members that casino-only interests are now attempting to diminish horse racing’s $2.2 billion dollar economic impact in Florida by framing our industry in a diminutive, negative way.” Stirling added.

In addition to the FHBPA, United Florida Horsemen includes the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (the Florida chapter of the American Quarter Horse Association).

Posted in Florida Gambling and Gaming Issues, Florida Horse Racing, Florida Quarter Horse Racing, Florida Slot Machines, Florida Thoroughbred Racing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

unitedfloridahorsemen:

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 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. Read more from Daily Racing Form’s Matt Hegarty . . .

Originally posted on Florida Horsemen:

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…

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Florida’s Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associations Urge Warring South Florida Tracks to Settle Their Differences—And Soon

unitedfloridahorsemen:

Unfortunately, the current racing dates conflict between Gulfstream and Calder is rooted in a statutory glitch that is being exploited by clever lawyering at the expense of Florida horse racing’s economic impact. FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling said today “I’m all about the free market, but there are certain types of products that require a greater degree of regulation. Horse racing is one of them. Done right, horse racing and breeding affords Florida with enormous economic impact because of all the jobs and businesses it creates. This serious distraction of racing dates overlap, combined with other current issues like ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ and related spurious lawsuits over the constitutionality of independent horsemen’s associations have the real potential of scaring away investors in Florida’s horse racing industry. Most of our members are small business owners and need to feel confident that their investment in Florida is protected and fostered.” Read more below . . .

Originally posted on Florida Horsemen:

With South Florida’s two Thoroughbred tracks engaging in an escalating regulatory battle over racing dates, the professionals who do the “heavy lifting” to provide the actual horse racing product—the horse owners, trainers and breeders—find themselves as unexpected bystanders in an unwanted dispute.  Thus, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA), made up of Thoroughbred owners and trainers, and the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association  (FTBOA) can only urge Gulfstream Park and Calder Casino and Racing—each facility remotely controlled by giant corporations—to settle their differences—and quickly.

“I’m all about the free market, but there are certain types of products that require a greater degree of regulation.  Horse racing is one of them,” said FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling.  “Done right, horse racing and breeding affords Florida with enormous economic impact because of all the jobs and businesses it creates.   But unfortunately, the current dates conflict is rooted in a…

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In Bizarre Move, Gretna “Pari-Mutu​el Barrel Racing” Sends “Breakage” Check to Florida Quarter Horse Breeders Association . . . Even Though No Agreement To Do So Exists Between Them

“Check Immediately Returned”

In a bizarre move during the week of February 6, 2012, Gretna Racing, LLC (Gretna) owners sent the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FQHBOA) a “breakage” check from its “pari-mutuel barrel racing” operation, even though no agreement of any sort exists between the two organizations to do so.

“Breakage,” commonly known as the amount of money left over after statutory and regulated wagering revenue distributions, would normally be part of monies audited by an independent horsemen’s association such as the FQHBOA and used to properly fund “purses” (prize money) and breeders’ awards according to state and federal law.

Notwithstanding the fact that barrel racing is not Quarter Horse racing, Gretna’s ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ operation has no agreement or affiliation with the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA) or the FQHBOA.  Therefore, the check was promptly returned to its sender via documented post office mail.

“We find Gretna’s sending of this check to be highly questionable,” said Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM, who serves as FQHRA and FQHBOA President.   Concurrently, Gretna’s co-owners are aggressively pursuing litigation against FQHRA and FQHBOA members in what many have characterized as a coordinated effort to eliminate state and federal horsemen’s protections altogether.

The FQHRA and FQHBOA serve as the Florida arm of the 300,000-member American Quarter Horse Association (“AQHA”), which regulates Quarter Horse racing nationwide.  Among other substantial duties that include auditing and accounting of accredited Florida Quarter Horse racing purse distributions, the FQHRA and FQHBOA also ensure access to workers’ compensation coverage and liability protection for horsemen, including jockeys.  The National Barrel Horse Association regulates barrel horse competitions.  Both organizations oppose Gretna Racing’s use of “pari-mutuel barrel racing” as a means of skirting Florida’s live racing requirements for pari-mutuel permitholders to hold 365-day slot machines and poker.

As set forth by the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978 and echoed by Florida law, tracks must have an agreement with a horsemen’s organization in order to operate.  Horsemen’s associations are independent organizations that represent the contractual interests and associated welfare of the competing horse owners and trainers, along with their respective employees and horses.

Further, the process of auditing tracks’ statutory purse distributions to horsemen is often so tenuous, horsemen’s associations of all breeds, including the FQHRA and FQHBOA, as well as the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA)–Florida’s Thoroughbred horsemen’s association—must employ their own full-time accountants and bookkeepers.

In the unprecedented case of “pari-mutuel barrel racing,” however, Florida regulators allowed Gretna to own its own horsemen’s group, a non-profit known as the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association (NFHA),” which is actually registered with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering as a “non-wagering horse racing” permit.

And because, up until January 27, 2012, the “NFHA” has been controlled by former Gulfstream Park attorney David Romanik and Gulfstream Park lobbyist Marc Dunbar, who co-own Gretna with PCI Gaming, a company owned by an Alabama Indian tribe, Gretna can thereby control distribution of the “breakage” check unilaterally.   On January 27, 2012, Romanik’s authority as NFHA Director was transferred to a Board, which includes the City of Gretna’s City Manager, Antonio Jefferson and Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals Director Cindy Gramling.  Not surprisingly, the NFHA had “agreed” to allow Gretna Racing to circumvent the Florida statutes in this manner.

“That these wayward funds were so haphazardly handled by Gretna officials effectively illustrates that the unsuspecting ‘North Florida Horsemen’s Association’ members are being kept in the dark about contracts and statutory funds distributions that would normally be subject to auditing by an independent horsemen’s group such as FQHRA and FQHBOA. ” FHBPA Executive Director Kent Stirling explained.  “What’s even more disconcerting , Gretna’s wayward ‘breakage’ check was for $727.70, but it reported $917.20 to the State of Florida for the same purpose.  Where is the missing money?”

FQHRA and FQHBOA-sanctioned racing at Hialeah Park out-earned Gretna “pari-mutuel barrel racing” by 99.1 percent in a direct comparison.  Under the protection of the FQHRA and FQHBOA at Hialeah Park, nearly 1,000 accredited Quarter Horses competed for nearly $4 million in purse money, whereas at Gretna, which underwrote its own purses and handled its own purse auditing and distribution, only a handful of barrel racers and approximately 40 horses of unknown breeds were known to compete for the advertised $38,000 in total prize money.

“It may come as a surprise to many that the FQHRA and FQHBOA once worked with Gretna until it refused to comply with AQHA regulations.  But, if this strange communication is Gretna’s way of saying it now wants to abide by AQHA racing code and Florida law, we certainly won’t rule out that possibility,” Dr. Fisch remarked.

For more information, contact:

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Just One Month Before Issuing Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing License, Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering Lost Hefty Attorneys’ Fees Court Battle With Gretna Racing Owners

Above: Gretna Racing LLC Owners David Romanik (left) and Marc Dunbar (right)

Just one month before awarding Gretna Racing LLC the highly questionable license with which it perpetrated “pari-mutuel barrel racing,” the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering had lost a complex protracted litigation battle with Gretna Racing owners David Romanik and Marc Dunbar over the lawyer/lobbyists’ petition for the award of attorneys’ fees in a case involving the Division’s denial of a Quarter Horse permit to “Ft. Myers Real Estate Holdings.”  (This company later became “South Marion Real Estate Holdings,” while a company by the name of Ft. Myers Real Estate Holdings is now controlled by Romanik.  South Marion Real Estate Holdings is controlled by Michael Goldstein, a longtime Romanik associate and grandson of an official at Pompano Park racetrack who formerly controlled Ft. Myers Real Estate Holdings.)

To view the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings September 15, 2011 Final Order in Case 11-001722FC, click here.  To view the entire docket, click here.

Demanding to be reimbursed as much as $360,831 from taxpayer coffers for their time in litigating the Division’s Ft. Myers Quarter Horse permit denial, Romanik and Dunbar even supplied experts who testified that a multiplier should be used to make the Division “’pay dearly,’ i.e., as punishment . . .” for what they termed “a gross abuse of the agency’s discretion.”

The request was enabled by the First District Court of Appeal, which said the Division’s later related actions were “so contrary to the fundamental principles of administrative law” that Ft. Myers Real Estate Holdings was entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees.

But, in reviewing the timesheets and other documentation submitted by Romanik, Dunbar and two other affiliated attorneys, the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings found “obvious flaws and less obvious insufficiencies” and “a large amount of duplication . . . which exceeds a tolerable degree.”

“Regardless of how Mr. Romanik’s hours are characterized, they were excessive and duplicative,” stated Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth McArthur, who ultimately reduced Romanik and Dunbar’s requested hourly fee from $450 to $325 and $300, respectively.  She further determined that the circumstances of this case did not warrant that the Division be “punished.”  In fact, the Division’s denial had been because of a new law, under which Ft. Myers Real Estate Holdings permit could no longer qualify for the Quarter Horse racing permit for which it had applied.

It was ultimately revealed that, should Ft. Myers Real Estate Holdings have actually commenced gaming operations, Romanik would have been paid $5 million, in addition to “any and all court fees that may be awarded.”  Dunbar’s law firm, Pennington et al, was to be a subcontractor in the deal.

South Marion Real Estate holdings, along with Pompano Park, are among six pari-mutuel entities that are currently awaiting the results of Quarter Horse license applications with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.  None currently hold agreements with the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, the State’s statutorily recognized horsemen’s association.

In 2011, Romanik and Dunbar launched a spurious smokescreen lawsuit against the statutory Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, while the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation continues to mount aggressive taxpayer-funded litigation against the same organization in defense of its unilateral Gretna Racing license award, which was done with no enabling legislation or regulatory hearings.

Gretna Racing’s “pari-mutuel barrel racing” is enabled by the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association,” which is controlled and owned by Romanik and Dunbar.  State and federal law mandates that tracks must have agreements with lawful horsemen’s associations in order to ensure the proper distribution of funds derived from wagering revenue.  Aside from Gretna Racing, no other pari-mutuel currently actively owns and controls its own horsemen’s association.

Recently, in the face of mounting statewide disapproval, Hamilton Downs Jai Alai, which had applied for a “pari-mutuel barrel racing” license based on the Gretna Racing model, withdrew its application for racing dates.

 

www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org

 

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Quote from United Florida Horsemen on today’s Gadsden County slot referendum (1/31): Real Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park has out-earned and outperformed Gretna’s “pari-mutuel barrel racing” by over 99 percent—all with no cardrooms, slots or bailout from the taxpayers of Florida.

 
“Notwithstanding the fact that the Gadsden County Slot referendum was held based the unlawful premise of “pari-mutuel barrel racing,” the travesty is that, regardless, of tonight’s outcome, the people of Gadsden County and the City of Gretna are being cheated out of exponentially more jobs and long-term economic development they could have had if Gretna Racing LLC were holding legitimate Quarter Horse racing instead.   For those who doubt that fact, the truth is now in the numbers:  Real Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park has out-earned and outperformed Gretna’s “pari-mutuel barrel racing” by over 99 percent—all with no cardrooms, slots or bailout from the taxpayers of Florida.   As for job creation?  Hialeah has over 800 employees who received their pari-mutuel license at the facility.  Gretna has only 38.   Proof that real jobs created by real horse racing are something slot machines can never replace.”
 
For more information, contact:
Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association:   Kent Stirling (305) 628-2989 or khs0813@bellsouth.net
Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association & Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association: Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM (850) 510-9650 or sfischDVM@avsequinehospital.com
 
 
www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org
www.FloridaHorsemen.com

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Ignoring Florida Legislature, Pending Litigation, Gretna Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing Seeks Regulatory Loophole Protection

Documents–Gretna Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing Seeks Regulatory Loophole Protection
Seeking to protect its cardroom and pending slot operations by solidifying the very loophole that enabled “pari-mutuel barrel racing” in the first place, Gretna Racing LLC owners David Romanik and Marc Dunbar have filed a petition to amend Rule 61D-2.001, entitled “General Definitions.”  In response, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has scheduled a five-hour March 13, 2012 workshop on the issue just days after the 2012 Florida Legislature officially concludes.

The audacious move comes amid Florida legislators’ pending efforts to correct the State’s legal definition of “horse racing,” the absence of which has led to a relative avalanche of pari-mutuel permitholders attempting to leverage the “Gretna Model” to similarly exploit existing the State’s live horse racing requirements to secure cardrooms and, ultimately, slot machines. 

Late in 2011, absence of a clear legal definition of “horse racing” was interpreted by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to allow for “pari-mutuel barrel racing.”  By successfully exploiting this loophole, Gretna Racing was deemed to meet Florida’s live racing requirements, thereby enabling the opening of its 365-day per year cardroom and poker facility.  At that point having filed minimal “racing dates” that also fulfilled Florida’s two-year live racing requirement for slot machine licensing, Gretna Racing’s Romanik and Dunbar quickly convinced Gadsden County officials to hold their desired slot referendum, despite the cloud of massive and costly litigation mounted by Florida horsemen strongly indicating that “pari-mutuel barrel racing” was, in fact, based on an illegal license award by state regulators.

Now, despite the pending legislative and litigation firestorm, and contrary to the related stern disapproval of Florida Governor Rick Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, pari-mutuel regulators will once again entertain Gretna Racing by considering Romanik and Dunbar’s proposed Rule amendment petition.  Essentially, amending Florida’s regulatory definition of “Contest” in the proposed manner would protect and perpetuate not only Gretna Racing, but its six copycat license applicants in the regulatory pipeline, thus firmly entrenching the expansion of gambling at the cost of decimated Florida horse racing industry jobs.

“The State of Florida licensed Gretna ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ without any enabling legislation, regulatory hearings or public input,” recalled Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling.  ”The last time I checked, you can’t just ignore the law, then go back and fix it when someone points out in hindsight the fact that you broke it!”

Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association President Steve Fisch noted, “Once again, Florida regulators are usurping the role of the Legislature and paying short shrift to the resulting job loss and economic drain—both of which have been stunningly quantified in this very short December/January time period.  The fact remains:  Legitimate Florida Quarter Horse racing is out-earning ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ in dramatic proportions.  To say one is the same as the other—especially in this tight budget year—is simply cheating Florida taxpayers across the board.”

The petition and its related documents are attached.

For more information, contact:

·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association:   Kent Stirling (305) 628-2989 or khs0813@bellsouth.net

·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association & Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association:  Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM (850) 510-9650 or sfischDVM@avsequinehospital.com

  

The United Florida Horsemen are:

·         National and Florida Barrel Horse Association (24,000 members)

·         American Quarter Horse Association (350,000 members; 7,163 Florida)

·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (439 members)

·         Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association (1,300 members)

·         National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (35,000 members)

·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (5,000 members)

·         Florida Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association (630 members)

·         U.S. Trotting Association (25,000 members)

 

www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org

www.FloridaHorsemen.com

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Paulick Report Notes Florida Horsemen: Horse racing, state losing out on Gretna “pari-mutuel barrel racing” deal

 
Reprinted from The Paulick Report:  An international on-line horse racing publication by noted Thoroughbred racing authority Ray Paulick  
 

The controversial Gretna barrel racing venue in North Florida isn’t exactly blowing the turnstiles off their hinges.  According to figures from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, the first month of pari-mutuel barrel racing produced a handle of $30,312.  That’s $1,500 per day – or $200 per race.

Below is a press release from the United Florida Horsemen, a group which continues to fight the licensing of barrel racing operations as a way to secure other forms of gambling, such as slots and card rooms.

Airdrie Stud

Together with former third-generation Gulfstream Park attorney David Romanik, Gulfstream Park lobbyist Marc Dunbar is the part-owner of Gretna Racing, LLC, which is causing a deliberate horse racing industry decimation and dramatic loss of State revenue by having unilaterally introduced “pari-mutuel barrel racing” in North Florida.  This outright mockery of Florida law is enabled by these individuals’ own non-profit corporation known as the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association.”

Because the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association” is controlled by Gretna Racing owners Dunbar and Romanik, revenues from Gretna’s cardrooms and, ultimately, slot machines, can easily be funneled back to their self-owned Gretna Racing, LLC, not distributed to the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association” members who have unwittingly signed away their State and Federal purse negotiating rights (copy of the NFHA “Pledge” is attached).  These unsuspecting horsemen and women don’t realize that their rights to Gretna Racing’s revenues would otherwise be ensured under both Florida law and the Federal Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978, the intent of which was never to have tracks own their own horsemen’s unions, since without ensuring lucrative purses to attract competitors, horse racing of any kind ceases to be a proper economic driver and job creator for any state.

If legitimate Quarter Horse racing sanctioned by the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (“FQHRA”) was taking place at Gretna Racing instead, these horsemen’s interests would otherwise be lawfully protected.

What’s worse, the irony is that legitimate Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association sanctioned Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park is out-earning Gretna “pari-mutuel barrel racing” by 99.1 percent, as reported to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.  Gretna only pays $19.64 per day in pari-mutuel taxes.

With only 36 horses needed to complete Gretna’s entire “pari-mutuel barrel racing” meet, versus nearly 1,000 that are stabled right now at Hialeah Park, the FQHRA’s success in turn, spurs economic development and job creation in both the racing and breeding industries since that revenue is properly shared with horsemen according to State and Federal law,  thanks to the FQHRA.  As further evidence, Hialeah’s legitimate Quarter Horse meet has 803 licensed pari-mutuel employees registered at its facility, whereas Gretna Racing has only 38 comparable licensees.  Documented attendance at Hialeah Park averages 4,100 per day.  The Associated Press and other major media reported Gretna Racing to attract only 20-50 people per day.

But the fact is, Dunbar and Romanik are actually now profiting at Gretna Racing from the very same business plan that they, themselves are suing the law-abiding horsemen’s associations for.  During 2011, Dunbar and Romanik launched a spurious lawsuit against the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association in which they claim damage from what the Florida Legislature ordained these statutory organizations to do:  Protect horsemen’s rights.

Nearly 450,000 members of United Florida Horsemen feel that the Florida Legislature should not support or negotiate with any person or entity that is currently engaged in a lawsuit designed to destroy horsemen’s livelihoods through self-dealing by means of dummy, self-owned horsemen’s associations designed exclusively to funnel pari-mutuel, card room and slot machine profits back to the track owners, rather than to properly disburse it to horsemen according to law. 

 
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Florida Taxpayers Subsidizing Gretna Barrel Failure: State of Florida Cheated Out of 99.1 Percent Of Revenue It Could Be Earning Through Legitimate Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA) Quarter Horse Racing

For every day that Florida taxpayers foot the litigation bill to keep “pari-mutuel barrel racing” afloat at Gretna Racing LLC, the State loses at least 99.1 percent of the revenue it would otherwise get from legitimate, FQHRA-sanctioned Quarter Horse racing such as that being held at Hialeah Park.

Because pari-mutuels pay a percentage of taxes based on wagering handle, Florida received only $19.64 in daily pari-mutuel tax payments from Gretna “barrel racing” during December and January.  Factor in the legal time and expense paid for by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, this tiny return was overwhelmed by the cost of complex taxpayer-funded litigation to sustain Gretna.

In a stark day-to-day, meet-to-meet December/January comparison, an average daily attendance of 4,100 patrons of real Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park wagered $2,672,358.03 during the same time period—a revenue difference of over 99 percent.  

 

Gretna Racing

 

Hialeah

Park

December/JanuaryLive racing days

 

17

 

 

14

Live events/performances

353/31

 

117/14

 

 

 

 

Total Wagered Live

$33,388

 

$2,672,358.03

 

 

 

 

Total Average Wagering Per Event, Per Day

$94

 

$190,883

       
Number of Employees Licensed at Facility

 

38

 

 

803

 

 

 

 

Average Daily Attendance

20-50*

 

4,100**

Total purses paid

$38,000

 

$3,800,000

 

 

 

 

Amount $$ Spent by Florida Taxpayers to Defend Gretna  Barrel Racing

unknown

Amount $$ Lost by Horsemen Defending Against Hostile Gretna AND State Litigation

Nearly $200,000

 

 

 

 

*Gretna attendance noted by

AP News coverage

 

**Hialeah exact turnstile count reported to the State of Florida

 

    Non-litigation data provided courtesy of the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering  
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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, its 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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Gulfstream Slot Machine Expansion Alert: Florida Approves Gulfstream Park to Run Two (2) Quarter Horse Races on New Year’s Weekend; Right to Install 2,000 Additional Slots Included

Despite its growing slot machine expansion crisis, the State of Florida has awarded Gulfstream Park a license to conduct two (2) Quarter Horse races on December 31, 2011 and January 1, 2012, thus meeting the two-year statutory requirement to install 2,000 slot machines without legislative authority or local referendum. 

“In fact, we met with high ranking Gulfstream officials for three hours on Thursday afternoon (12/22).  During that meeting, the horsemen were asked for our ‘permission’ for Gulfstream to run a Quarter Horse race on December 31, and another race on January 1, 2012.  At no point during that meeting were we informed that Gulfstream’s Quarter Horse racing license had already been signed, sealed and delivered.”  Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association President Phil Combest emphasized.  “And the result was that the open partnership we’ve all worked so hard to build was inexplicably compromised as the horsemen were left to independently discover that another potential Gretna pari-mutuel barrel racing slot expansion was in the offing”

Gulfstream is already authorized for 2,000 slot machines under its existing Thoroughbred permit.   Now, it would be free to install an additional 2,000 machines, for a total of 4,000 slot machines. 

Presently, the track operates 860 machines that only earned a daily average “drop” of $151 each during the beginning of this fiscal year.  By industry standards, this is considered to be poor performance. 

Gulfstream’s new license, # 536, was approved on December 19, 2011 by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering under the track’s Quarter Horse pari-mutuel racing permit, which it has held for years, but not activated.

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Florida Governor Scott Tells Palm Beach Post’s Dara Kam That Lawmakers Should Shut Down Gretna Barrel Racing, Slots

In an interview with the Palm Beach Post’s Dara Kam yesterday, December 21, 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott said “Lawmakers need to put an end to the uncertainty over the barrel racing and possible spread of it to other facilities.”

The article is reprinted below.

Scott: Lawmakers need to shut down barrel racing, slots

by Dara Kam | December 21st, 2011

Palm Beach Post “Post on Politics” Blog

www.pbpost.com

Gov. Rick Scott is calling on lawmakers to quickly close what he called a gray area in Florida law that allowed a Panhandle racetrack to get a permit for barrel racing and a card room and opened the door for slot machines.

Scott also for the first time said he doesn’t believe lawmakers meant to include as a legitimate gambling activity when they passed laws regulating pari-mutuels.

“It doesn’t appear to me that it was the intent of the law. They need to clear it up,” Scott told The Palm Beach Post this afternoon.

Scott’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation issued the quarter horse permit to Gretna Racing – owned by the Alabama-based Poarch Creek Indians and gambling lawyers David Romanik and Marc Dunbar – last month. Regulators believed there was nothing in Florida law allowed them to deny the permit, now being challenged in court.

Lawmakers need to put an end to the uncertainty over the barrel racing and possible spread of it to other facilities – a track in Hamilton County has applied for a barrel racing permit – Scott said.

“It’s not fair to people who invest their dollars. It’s not fair to people who are supposed to enforce the law if the law’s not clear. So the legislature ought to clear it up whether that’s allowed or not,” He said.

Scott said he wants the legislature to act quickly before voters in Gadsden County, where the Gretna track is located, go to the polls on Jan. 31 to vote on a referendum allowing slot machines at the casino.

Voter approval of the referendum could threaten the state’s agreement with the Seminole Indians and cost Florida the $225 million the tribe gives annually. That agreement requires that slot machines be limited to pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Slots at tracks elsewhere in the state could blow up next year’s budget which relies on the Seminole cash, Scott said.

“By not doing something, they’re making a decision that will put the Seminole compact at risk. I think they ought to clear it up ahead of time,” Scott said.

http://www.postonpolitics.com/2011/12/scott-lawmakers-need-to-shut-down-barrel-racing-slots/comment-page-1/#comment-305140

Dara KamDara Kam has covered the Capitol for more than a decade, first for the Associated Press and Gannett then for The Palm Beach Post for about five years. She never met a pair of fishnets she didn’t like and is still waiting for them to dim the lights in committee rooms so she can remove her shades.  Reach her at 850-570-1592 or dara_kam@pbpost.com.

The United Florida Horsemen are:

·         National and Florida Barrel Horse Association (24,000 members)

·         American Quarter Horse Association (350,000 national members; 7,163 Florida members)

·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (439 members)

·         U.S. Trotting Association (25,000 members)

·         Florida Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association (630 members)

·         Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (1,300 members)

·         National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (35,000 members)

·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (5,000 members)

www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org

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Response by United Florida Horsemen to December 13, 2011 First District Court of Appeal Order Denying the Emergency Motion to Stay “Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing” at Gretna Racing, LLC:

“While we are disappointed with the Court’s decision to allow this Trojan Horse masquerade to continue for the time being, we are very grateful to the Court for considering our request and for granting us the unusual opportunity for an appellate hearing under these unfortunate and unprecedented circumstances.

It is important to note that the Court’s decision does not vindicate or validate in any way what the State and the permitholder are doing in Gretna. The Court is merely reserving judgment on the matter while we prove our case to put a stop to this illegal activity, and we fully intend to do that.

We look forward to having our day in court, and we remain confident that we will prevail on the merits in the end.

However, in the middle of widespread economic decline and job loss, it defies all reason that the State of Florida would expend taxpayer dollars in fierce litigation to defend the unilateral expansion of gambling through “pari-mutuel barrel racing”—a nefarious scheme designed to drastically cut jobs, people, horses and economic impact by replacing it all with slot machines. 

As far as we are concerned, there is no debate on the illegitimacy of this outright perpetration, since the numbers already speak for themselves:  Lost revenue to the State through dramatic handle and purse decreases, uninformed barrel competitors being cheated out of normal opportunity and fair winnings commensurate with the industry, and the fallacy of Gretna’s local elected officials pointing to empty bleachers and calling it all a ‘great success.’  

Florida law says pari-mutuel permitholders have an obligation to ensure revenue to the State.  Gretna Racing has clearly failed in its Department of Business and Professional Regulation-sponsored experiment, yet is ironically being artificially sustained by lack of regulatory oversight, despite strong opposition to expanded gambling from the Florida Legislature and Cabinet.”

The United Florida Horsemen are:

·         National and Florida Barrel Horse Association (24,000 members)

·         American Quarter Horse Association (350,000 national members; 7,163 Florida members)

·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (439 members)

·         U.S. Trotting Association (25,000 members)

·         Florida Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association (630 members)

·         Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (1,300 members)

·         National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (35,000 members)

·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (5,000 members)

 

For more information, contact:

·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association:   Kent Stirling, Executive Director (305) 628-2989 or khs0813@bellsouth.net

·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association:  Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM (850) 510-9650 or sfischDVM@avsequinehospital.com

·         Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association:  Dr. Phil Matthews, President at phil@matthewsoffice.net

 

www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org

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State of Florida Using Taxpayer Dollars to Defend Gretna Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing Unwanted Expansion of Gambling

While the State of Florida grapples with a $2 billion budget deficit, one of its top regulatory agencies is simultaneously expending untold taxpayer funds to escalate and exacerbate a costly legal battle to defend the expansion of gambling, to which Florida’s top-ranking state legislators have repeatedly voiced their increasing opposition during the past several weeks.
 
Just last week, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation released dozens of pages of publicly-funded litigation designed to defend the very situation that the Florida Legislature is now vigorously debating how to curtail. 
 
With the Cabinet members now having publicly declared their opposition to the expansion of gambling through destination resorts, the State of Florida’s attitude toward the unfettered proliferation of gambling has been greatly clarified. 
 
But, to the chagrin of its sponsors, the intent of the would-be destination resort legislation’s proposed gaming commission had already been unexpectedly usurped by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DPPR’s) highly questionable and unilateral award of a racing license to Gretna Racing LLC.  As expected, the dubious license was ultimately used for purpose of introducing “pari-mutuel barrel racing.” Constituting a brand new gambling product, the license was awarded without enabling legislation, proper regulatory hearings or public input.   As expected, Gretna Racing officials immediately used their new license to secure a slot machine referendum in Gadsden County—a loophole-laden legal maneuver that quickly brought copycat requests from other small pari-mutuel permitholders.
 
So outraged were top legislative leaders at Gretna Racing’s actions that, in a Senate Committee on Regulated Industries workshop last week, some called for the need to solve the Gretna Racing problem before taking up the destination resort bills.
 
“As the people’s regulator, it is unconscionable that the DBPR is using the public dime to finance protracted litigation to protect its unilateral expansion of gambling, when the Legislature is making it quite clear that this is not the direction it wants for the State of Florida,” remarked Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) Executive Director Kent Stirling.
 
“What amazes me is that the State of Florida is actually finance failure by strangling off what could be thousands of jobs and exponentially greater wagering if Gretna Racing were to simply have adhered to legitimate Quarter Horse racing,” added FHBPA President Phil Combest, who also noted the startling disparity in opening day handle between Gretna Racing ($2,581) and Gulfstream Park ($4,837,605—constitutes a 22% increase for Gulfstream over the comparable day last season).  These numbers were generated literally within two days of one another.  The comparison that the Gulfstream Park and Gretna Racing facilities were the same as one another was made on December 2 by former Gulfstream Park attorney-turned-Gretna Racing Developer David Romanik in an interview with internationally known horse racing writer Ray Paulick.
 
Combest reminded that Florida regulations stipulate that pari-mutuel permitholders must demonstrate that they can protect the flow of revenue to the State.  “So we’re killing the revenue we could have had with legitimate racing, killing jobs in the horse racing industry, hammering the gravestones with taxpayer-funded litigation and paying Florida legislators to contemplate the whole thing,” he said.  “To me, that’s the real government waste.”

www.FloridaHorsemen.com

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Only 8 Horses and 50 people Show Up to “Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing” Opener; Thousands of legitimate horse racing jobs lost in Creek Gretna Entertainment farce

To exacerbate the mockery of yesterday’s “opening” at Creek Gretna Entertainment, only 8 horses and 50 people showed up for the “pari-mutuel barrel racing” farce. Compare this with typical opening day crowds of 25,000 or more people and 2,000 horses at Gulfstream Park, which combine to produce thousands of jobs normally expected with legitimate horse racing. 

Normal opening day on-track wagering handle for legitimate horse racing is usually $1 million, whereas Gretna Racing’s sham operation was accorded a generous estimate of only several thousand dollars, which was not known to be officially reported or recorded.

Even more alarming, it was reported in major news sources that one competitor bet on her own horse, which believed to be illegal.  State pari-mutuel regulators were not known to be on hand yesterday to police or publicly report these types of highly questionable activities.

“After Florida’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has fought so hard to protect its evasive actions, we have no way of knowing whether anyone was even working to ensure the riders were licensed, whether the horses were drug-tested, or whether any other normal pari-mutuel regulations were applied and upheld,” said Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling.

 
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United Florida Horsemen: Time for Court To Stop Gretna Barrel Racing Mockery; the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has completely evaded any public scrutiny or accountability and gotten away with its actions

The United Florida Horsemen, which comprises nearly 450,000 Florida and national horsemen, including the National Barrel Horse Association and the American Quarter Horse Association, issued the following statement on today’s December 1, 2011 opening of “pari-mutuel barrel racing” at Gretna Racing, LLC:

“It is time for the court system to finally put a stop to the shenanigans going on in Gretna.  If there was any remaining doubt, the revelation yesterday that a Florida pari-mutuel regulator involved in approving the infamous ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ for Gretna Racing, LLC was planning to go to work for the very business he regulated and helped to get licensed should indicate to all of Florida’s public officials that it is time to pause and ask questions, rather than celebrate what others are describing as an ‘outright scam.’

It is a total embarrassment to the Sunshine State, with its ‘Government in the Sunshine,’ that the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has completely evaded any public scrutiny or accountability and gotten away with its actions.  The Division has denied every request for a fair hearing on the issue and, to this day, refuses to be held accountable for its decisions.  The Division’s lawyers are too busy creating legal roadblocks to the public’s effort to find out the truth behind the barrel racing sham.

The cruel irony of today’s ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ opening is that it is actually designed to replace jobs with slot machines, rather than grow our economy through the recognized benefits of legitimate horse racing.  Because the City of Gretna’s economic development benchmark started near zero, its impoverished people don’t realize the economic development that could otherwise happen there with legitimate Quarter Horse racing and the thousands more jobs and prosperity it would bring, as opposed to the predatory slot machines that will now outnumber people, while concurrently killing Florida horse racing industry jobs throughout the State.

With such scrutiny being placed on ethics at all levels of government, it should send alarm bells throughout our regulatory, legislative and judicial system that the State of Florida is standing idly by while its taxpayer-funded pari-mutuel regulators are vigorously defending their unilateral sanction of ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ and sham horsemen’s organizations created by Gretna Racing and Hamilton Downs to shade their farcical activities.

It is time for the courts to step in and either stop, or call time-out on these rogue and illegal actions before it’s too late.”

For more information, contact:

  • Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association:   Kent Stirling, Executive Director (305) 628-2989 or khs0813@bellsouth.net
  • Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association:  Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM (850) 510-9650 or sfischDVM@avsequinehospital.com
  • Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association:  Dr. Phil Matthews, President at phil@matthewsoffice.net

The United Florida Horsemen are:

  • National and Florida Barrel Horse Association (24,000 members)
  • American Quarter Horse Association (350,000 national members; 7,163 Florida members)
  • Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (439 members)
  • U.S. Trotting Association (25,000 members)
  • Florida Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association (630 members)
  • Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (1,300 members)
  • National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (35,000 members)
  • Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (5,000 members)

www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org

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Angry Job Seekers Turned Away From Paltry 150 Gretna Casino Jobs; Police Called Out on Disenfranchised Gadsden and Quincy Applicants, WTXL and WCTV Reports, United Florida Horsemen Note

United Florida Horsemen issued the following statement in response to WTXL and WCTV reports of Gretna Racing and would-be Casino calling the police on angry job seekers this weekend, November 12, 2011:

“Members of the Florida horse racing industry were chagrined to see angry job seekers being turned away yesterday from what was the reality of just a relatively few low-paying jobs at the would-be Gretna Casino.  What these unfortunate unemployed people don’t realize is that Gretna is purposely holding barrel racing instead of legitimate horse racing in order to avoid hiring for thousands more jobs that real horse racing would bring.  Because barrel racing uses fewer horses than legitimate horse racing, by holding barrel racing, Gretna is purposely cutting costs to avoid the expense of creating the jobs they could otherwise have available if real horse racing was being held there.  It should speak volumes to job seekers that Gretna Casino officials couldn’t even be on hand to greet applicants at their own job fair.  Meanwhile, because of Gretna’s capricious actions, 51,700 people employed by legitimate Florida horse racing stand to lose their jobs if “pari-mutuel barrel racing,” (on which legal action is pending) is allowed to irresponsibly expand gambling in Florida.  What’s worse, it could negatively impact the Seminole Gaming Compact that provides needed funds to Florida schools.”

The United Florida Horsemen include:

  • Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association:   Kent Stirling, Executive Director (305) 628-2989 or khs0813@bellsouth.net
  • Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association:  Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM (850) 510-9650 or sfischDVM@avsequinehospital.com
  • Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners Association:  Dr. Phil Matthews, President at phil@matthewsoffice.net
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Gretna Racing’s affection for rodeo barrel racing is about as heartfelt as Broward developer Ron Bergeron’s sudden desire to bring jai alai to Weston, The Miami Herald’s Fred Grimm says

The Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Nov. 12, 2011

Put your bets on slow hermit crabs and fast cops
By Fred Grimm
fgrimm@MiamiHerald.com

MiamiHerald.com/columnists

It’s a parallel universe up there in Gretna. While we’re getting ourselves stirred up in Miami over the notion of a $3 billion casino resort next to Biscayne Bay, the folks in Gretna, just a ways down Highway 90 south of the Georgia line, figure barrel racing will bring high rollers and economic salvation to their piney hills.

Not that there’s anything new about wagering on barrel racing, an old rodeo pursuit involving Marlboro men in Stetson hats, whooping and hollering and coaxing feisty ponies through figure-eight configurations on a course festooned with oil drums. No doubt cowboys have long been betting their stirrups or chaps or six-shooters or chaws of Redman Tobacco or rights to the girl in the calico dress (ah, shucks, Miss Lucy) on the outcome.

But until Gretna introduced this countrified version of gambling fever, state government wasn’t much interested in taking a cut of the rodeo handle. The concept of barrel racing as a licensed pari-mutuel, that’s new. At least that’s what the National Barrel Racing Association says.

Of course, the owners of Gretna Racing LLC’s affection for rodeo racing is about as heartfelt as Broward developer Ron Bergeron’s sudden desire to bring jai alai to Weston. Bergeron’s lawyer filed a 42-page application with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering last week. He wants a permit to build a new fronton out on the lonely reaches of U.S. 27 at a time when jai alai audiences have become about as sparse as the Rick Scott fan club. Statewide, the jai alai handle last year shrank to barely half what it was just five years ago. (Dania Jai Alai just unveiled remodeling plans that downsize the fronton arena from 5,000 seats to 1,800.) For that matter, wagering on all of Florida’s pari-mutuels, the entire panting menagerie of racing horses, dogs and guys with baskets on their arms, has fallen 43 percent in the last decade.

Of course, nobody really cares a whit about that stuff. It’s all about slot machines. Last week, the county commissioners of God-fearing Gadsden County voted unanimously to hold a referendum on whether to allow slots at the Gretna barrel racetrack. The proposal would allow 2,000, which would amount to 242 more slot machines than Gretna has residents.

It was a rush job. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that Gadsden’s civic leaders, nudged by Gretna Racing’s lobbyists, slapped the referendum on the Jan. 31 ballot to take advantage of the hubbub over gambling in the incoming legislative session. (Over 100 state capital lobbyists have been hired by various gaming companies.) Maybe they figure nobody will notice, what with all the yelling about South Florida gambling palaces, if Gretna slipped a couple of thousand slot machines next to the poker room and wrecked the state’s $250 million-a-year competition-limiting compact with the Seminole Tribe.

Barrel racing and the betting windows open Dec. 1, with less controversy thereabouts, in the poorest county in Florida, than the Genting resort casino proposal has generated down in sophisticated Miami. (Gretna, by the way, is much closer to Havana than Miami, but it’s that other Havana, the Florida version, population 1,703, 17.5 miles east on Highway 12, just north of Scotland.)

All this, even though legislators from north Florida counties crawling with red bugs and Baptist preachers can hardly open their mouths without declaring that they’re dead set against “any expansion of gambling.”

They’ve been saying it for years, yet somehow gambling keeps expanding. Florida now has thoroughbred racing and harness racing and quarter horse racing and poker rooms and Lotto and PowerBall and gambling cruises to nowhere and racinos full of chirping slot machines and old Indian bingo halls evolved into full-blown casinos and a thousand utterly unregulated strip mall gambling parlors known euphemistically as Internet cafes or senior citizen arcades or, down this way, maquinitas.

And while the folks from north and central Florida have been railing about the proposal to allow three major resort casinos down here in Gomorrah, no one paid much attention last month when the state issued a gaming permit for barrel racing in the Bible Belt.

That sounds suspiciously like an expansion of gambling. The Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association sure thinks so. The association filed a complaint with the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering last week charging that “recognition of barrel racing as a pari-mutuel activity would represent the establishment of an entirely new category of pari-mutuel wagering which is not authorized by statute and has been neither proposed or adopted as a rule.” Meanwhile, Hamilton Jai Alai and Poker in Jasper, population 1,780, another town jammed up against the Georgia border, has applied for its own barrel racing permit. “It’s the wild west — at a level I have never seen,’’ a lobbyist for Miami’s Mardi Gras Casino told The Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas last week. With barrel racing, the wild west analogy becomes all the more apt.

The quarter horse crowd claims that lowly barrel racing is just a cheaper vehicle for Gretna Racing to qualify for poker rooms and slot machines. Of course, the thoroughbred folks said the same thing about quarter horse tracks. They’re both right. Gambling conglomerates, if they could get slots and card rooms and table games, would happily reduce their pari-mutuels to hermit crab races. In South Florida, we should consider converting I-95 into a pari-mutuel setting, betting on the races between the Miami Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol. (I’m down for $10 on FHP.)

And if the Legislature won’t allow us a glittering $3 billion sin-palace on Biscayne Bay, we could always convince the cowboys down on South Beach to mount up and give barrel racing a go. (I’m down for $10 on the Miami Beach PD).
 
 

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Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/11/12/v-print/2499166/put-your-bets-on-slow-hermit-crabs.html#ixzz1dbvlOhyP

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Florida’s Horsemen Note Selection of Spectrum Gaming Group For Comprehensive Legislative Gaming Study

The Florida 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

Posted in Florida Gambling and Gaming Issues, Florida Horse Racing, Florida Quarter Horse Racing, Florida Slot Machines, Florida Thoroughbred Racing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Florida Horsemen’s Kent Stirling In Florida Voices–Horse Racing Is Big Business; Don’t Dilute the Real Thing

Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling was featured on April 8, 2013 in FloridaVoices.com, the statewide editorial opinion page.  Below is an excerpt from his column . . .  To read the complete article, click here.
 
 
By Kent Stirling, FHBPA Executive Director
Originally Published on April 8, 2013
 

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

As Florida lawmakers embark on a careful study of gambling issues as they affect the state and its people, this is the time to understand that the scope of racing’s economic impact reaches far beyond the racetrack itself.  

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,” which paved the way for rogue pari-mutuel permitholders to quickly capitalize 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. 
 

Read more from FloridaVoices.com:  http://www.floridavoices.com/myturn/horse-racing-big-florida-don-t-dilute-real-thing

Posted in Florida Gambling and Gaming Issues, Florida Horse Racing, Florida Quarter Horse Racing, Florida Slot Machines, Florida Thoroughbred Racing, Gretna Racing and Casino, Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing Illegal In Florida | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment