A continued final hearing was held this week on the propriety of the state awarding a racing license to Gretna Racing LLC for 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 Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering overstepped its regulatory authority and created an unpromulgated rule in awarding the license to Gretna Racing.
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 permit-holders are in line to leverage this new gambling product to acquire slot machines without conducting legitimate horse racing.
Of paramount concern to Florida’s racing industry, “pari-mutuel barrel racing” plummets the need for approximately 2,000 horses at a typical racetrack to just eight per day, of which the same eight horses can, and have been used over and over again, while the card rooms stay open 365 days a year. Legitimate horse racing is documented to employ over 50,000 Floridians per year who produce over $2.2 billion in statewide economic impact.
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.
Kent Stirling is executive director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, which comprises over 6,000 Thoroughbred horsemen. He can be reached at email@example.com.