Horsemen left out of legislation


GROVE CITY, Ohio — Gov. Strickland’s legislative directive regarding VLT’s at Ohio’s seven racetracks as well as the budget bill passed by both Houses of the Ohio legislature contained no language regarding purses or the promotion of live horse racing in the state, according to the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association which represents the states more than 3,500 Thoroughbred owners and trainers.

Have to negotiate

The association, as well as the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, which represents the standardbred horsemen in the state, will now have to negotiate with the tracks the percentage of the VLT revenue’s which will be used for purse monies.

Purse money is the money which horses compete for in each race.

Tracks and horsemen in Ohio have stated for years the decline of the racing industry in Ohio has been due to purse money in the state not being competitive with surrounding states which offer expanded gaming at their tracks.

Purses at the thoroughbred tracks in Pennsylvania average nearly $200,000 per day, while purses at the thoroughbred tracks in Ohio average approximately $50,000 per day.

Suffered greatly

The thoroughbred breeding industry in Ohio has suffered greatly over the past decade due to declining purses as breeders have moved their operations to surrounding states which offer more lucrative breeding program incentives.

Six hundred and thirty-four foals were registered in the state in 2001, that number has decreased steadily and only 236 foals were registered in 2008, a 63 percent decline.

Horsemen in surrounding states which have passed similar legislation receive between 12 percent and 15 percent of VLT revenues for purses and breed supplements which encourage horsemen to breed horses in their state.

Testimony provided by Mountaineer Park CEO Bob Griffin during Senate hearings on the VLT legislation on July 3 indicated that Mountaineer, which owns central Ohio harness track Scioto Downs, felt that 4 percent of the gross gaming revenue from VLTs would be sufficient for the racing industry.

Not enough

“Four percent of VLT revenue’s for horsemen simply isn’t enough to revitalize the racing industry in Ohio. Studies have proven pari-mutuel wagering, which generates the majority of our purse money, suffers when slot machines are added at racetracks. Why are Ohio’s horsemen being asked to take approximately two-thirds less than the horsemen in the surrounding states which have passed similar legislation?” said Dave Basler, Ohio HBPA executive director.

“The horsemen in Ohio deserve to be placed on a level playing field with the horsemen in surrounding states and the over 15,000 horse racing industry related jobs depend upon that happening,” he said.

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