November 6, 2012—With residents in various Florida counties voting today on whether or not to allow slot machines within their boundaries, should it soon be authorized, leaders of Florida’s Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and Standardbred industry noted that similar ballot questions taken earlier this year in counties such as Gadsden and Hamilton, have been wholly based upon pari-mutuels’ use of phony, contrived horse-related events designed to skirt Florida’s requirements for live racing in order to qualify for slot machines.
As documented in national reports, an increasing number of Florida pari-mutuels have misused their state-granted gambling permits to hold events that are not only afoul of state and federal law, but are deliberately designed to destroy jobs by eliminating the need for horses and competitors in Florida’s $2.2 billion horse racing industry, which employs over 104,000 people annually. Florida’s Thoroughbred racing industry alone employs over 51,000.
“While slot revenue has helped maintain Florida’s purse competitiveness with other states, casinos have become emboldened by nefarious schemes like Gretna Racing’s ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ and copycat ‘flag drops’ that are structured to not only yield as little revenue as possible (in order to qualify for even more slot machines), but are aimed directly at eliminating horses and the jobs they create,” said Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling, “Under the ‘Gretna Model,’ slot money accrues directly to casino owners, and not out into the Florida economy as it was originally intended through legitimate, live horse racing.”
An administrative court ruling has been delayed on whether “pari-mutuel barrel racing” was allowed as a brand new gambling product in Florida without enabling legislation, regulatory hearings or public input. Followed by cancellation of “races” even though poker and cardrooms have been allowed to stay open 365 days a year, wagering on this unrecognized event has sunk as low as $24 a day.
Florida’s horse industry ranks among the top three states nationally. Ocala-Bred Thoroughbreds dominated this year’s Breeders’ Cup—the Super Bowl of Thoroughbred Racing.
In additional testament to the strength of Florida’s breeding industry, a Florida-based Thoroughbred breeder purchased 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace this week for $10 million dollars.