After nearly three days of testimony and at least six witnesses still remaining to testify yesterday, April 11, 2012, the case involving a dispute over the award of a racing license by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to Gretna Racing LLC was temporarily halted and will be taken back up over a three-day period beginning June 26, 2012.
Since the award of that license, Gretna Racing has used it to conduct a brand new form of gambling it calls “pari-mutuel barrel racing.”
Nearly 450,000 horsemen in eight Florida and national organizations have agreed that the Division’s license award to Gretna Racing is an overstep of regulatory authority and constitutes an unpromulgated Rule.
During this week’s administrative hearing, the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (the Florida arm of the American Quarter Horse Association, which regulates and oversees the integrity of Quarter Horse racing worldwide) questioned the State’s hasty award to Gretna Racing, given the Division’s knowledge that the license would be used for “pari-mutuel barrel racing” as a new Florida gambling product.
Normally, the introduction of a new gambling product into the market would be enabled with the passage of legislation, followed by subsequent regulatory hearings in which public input would be provided and considered. With “pari-mutuel barrel racing,” none of that process occurred.
Now enabled to minimally meet Florida live racing requirements for poker and slot machine licensing through “pari-mutuel barrel racing,” other Florida pari-mutuel permitholders are in line to leverage this new gambling product to acquire slot machines without conducting legitimate racing, which heretofore has employed over 50,000 documented Floridians per year who produce over $2.2 billion in economic impact. Instead of 1,000 or more horses at a typical racetrack, “pari-mutuel barrel racing” plummets the need for that supply to just 8 per day, of which the same 8 horses can, and have been used over and over again, while the cardrooms stay open 365 days a year.
The implications of allowing “pari-mutuel barrel racing” to decimate the enormous economic impact of Florida’s heretofore successful horse racing and breeding industry are dire. The State of Florida cannot afford to allow clever lawyering and loopholes to destroy its internationally known horse racing and breeding industry in this manner.
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