revised version of the Destination Resort Bill, filed in the Florida Senate last Friday, shows significant changes evidently aimed at winning approval and moving the bill to the Senate floor

A revised version of the Destination Resort Bill, filed in the Florida Senate last Friday, shows significant changes evidently aimed at winning approval and moving the bill to the Senate floor. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, a Republican from Fort Lauderdale, has scaled back the tax on pari-mutuels from 35 percent to 18 percent and increased the tax rate on destination resorts from 10 percent to 18 percent. Click here to read the bill. According to the revised version of Senate Bill 710, 97.5 percent of all revenue generated by the destination resort casinos would go to the state’s general fund, with none going to local municipalities or counties where the resorts would be located. The bill authorizes three destination resorts in South Florida, two in Miami-Dade and one in Broward. Other changes to the bill include a $5 million annual license fee, up from $2 million, and a requirement for a local referendum even in Miami-Dade and Broward, where voters have already approved gambling. “It’s a dramatic change from the originally filed bill,” said Dan Adkins, chief executive officer of Mardi Gras Casino in Hollywood. “It allows pari-mutuels to open anywhere in the state and become full casinos after voters approve.” Bogdanoff has said from the moment she filed her bill that her goal is to limit gambling in the state and regulate it more strictly. In an email message to members of the Senate committee hearing the bill, Bogdanoff wrote that her revised bill would “substantially reduce the number of locations that offer gaming.”

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Podcast: Florida horse breeders stewing over barrel races

SouthFloridaRacingJournals Comment:
What I cannot understand is, they make this all sound illegal. Like any good lobbyist or criminal lawyer, they found a loophole and were able to exploit it. I think the anger should be placed with the Floriduh politician’s, who are more interested in campaign donations, the family values sicko’s, taking away the civil rights of those they disagree with, religious license plates, taking away a women’s right to choose, school vouchers, sonograms, anti-gay amendments, disenfranchising blacks and the poor, making it harder to vote, and getting President Obama beat in 2012.
Podcast: Florida horse breeders stewing over barrel races
by The Paulick Report |
NPR’s Greg Allen on Morning Edition takes a closer look at the battle brewing in Florida over barrel racing as a pari-mutuel sport.

Allen interviews Marc Dunbar, an attorney and part owner of Creek Entertainment Gretna, the new barrel racing facility north of Tallahassee, Florida, who says barrel racing is part of an effort to bring a new type of customer to horse racing.

Interviews with representatives of Florida’s breeders associations take quite a different view. Steve Fisch, head of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, says barrel racing cannot really be called horse racing. And Kent Stirling, who represents Thoroughbred owners and trainers, calls it a “get-rich-quick scheme” that could destroy the racing industry in Florida.

»

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Gulfstream Quarter Horse Plan Questioned

Gulfstream Quarter Horse Plan Questioned

By Jim Freer
Updated: Sunday, December 25, 2011 7:40 AM

Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream Park will hold one or possibly two Quarter Horse races over the New Year’s weekend—one after its last Thoroughbred race Dec. 31 and a second possibly after its last Thoroughbred race Jan. 1. The plan to run those races has led to immediate and strong opposition from the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

“Gulfstream Park has decided to exercise its dormant, non-profit Quarter Horse permit,” Gulfstream president and GM Tim Ritvo said in a statement Dec. 23. “We were advised by counsel that if we didn’t exercise the permit there was a possibility of losing it during the upcoming (Florida) legislative session.”

Ritvo added: “Every major pari-mutuel has been activating their dormant permits due to widespread expectations that lawmakers will revoke the permits during the upcoming session.”
Purses for the Quarter Horse races will come out of a separate account from the purse account for Gulfstream’s current meet, he said.

However, the Florida HBPA is considering legal action that would prevent Gulfstream from holding Quarter Horse races, said the association’s executive director Kent Stirling. He said the Florida HBPA is concerned that Gulfstream could have expanded Quarter Horse racing during months other than the Thoroughbred season—with money from simulcasts, slot machines, and poker going to groups other than Thoroughbred horsemen.

Gulfstream, in Hallandale Beach, Fla., has held a Quarter Horse permit for several years. On Dec. 19, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering issued Gulfstream a Quarter Horse license for two performances.

Stirling said that Gulfstream’s contract with the Florida HPBA does not allow it to hold any racing other than Thoroughbred racing through Dec. 31, 2012. He said the Florida HBPA is considering legal action that would prevent Gulfstream from holding Quarter Horse races.
Alon Ossip, an executive vice president for The Stronach Group, which owns Gulfstream, on Dec. 22 told Stirling and other Florida HBPA officials about the plan for two Quarter Horse races.

Ossip did not provide the Florida HBPA with details on plans for any additional Quarter Horse racing at Gulfstream, Stirling said.

Under one interpretation of Florida laws, holding one Quarter Horse race in two consecutive years can make a pari-mutuel in Broward County (Gulfstream’s locale) or Miami-Dade County eligible for a second casino. Each of those casinos can have as many as 2,000 Las Vegas-style slot machines.

“He (Ossip) said the two Quarter Horse races could enable Gulfstream to have as many as 4,000 slots,” Stirling said. “He said someone like Caesar’s might be interested.”

A bill under consideration in the Florida legislature would authorize as many as three destination resort hotels in southeast Florida. In addition to slot machines, each would have roulette and craps, which are currently not legal in Florida.

Ritvo has told The Blood-Horse that Gulfstream would like to be considered as a site for a destination resort.

Gulfstream has about 825 slot machines. It has vacant land, for a possible hotel-casino, on the south side of its property.

Gulfstream’s plan for two Quarter Horse races “came as a complete surprise, and was like a kick in the stomach from someone we thought was a partner,” Stirling said.
Ritvo said Ossip was hoping “to continue talks through Saturday to insure the horsemen this wasn’t being done to disrupt Thoroughbred racing. Unfortunately, members of the FHBPA were unavailable.”

“The Stronach Group remains committed to not only preserving Thoroughbred racing but allowing it to thrive,” Ritvo said.

Hialeah Park is holding Florida’s only conventional Quarter Horse meet with a purse contract with the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association.

“They (Florida HQRA) are not providing horses to Gulfstream, and I don’t know who is,” Stirling said.

He said the Florida HBPA is concerned that Gulfstream could later use its Quarter Horse permit for pari-mutuel barrel racing—in a low-cost meet without the Florida HBPA in which Gulfstream might be able to keep bigger shares of simulcast and slot revenues.

He noted that Marc Dunbar, a Tallahassee attorney, is a lobbyist for Gulfstream and is one of the owners of Gretna Racing in Gretna, Fla.

Dunbar did not return phone calls.
On Dec. 1, Gretna Racing, which is near Tallahassee, began the first pari-mutuel barrel racing meet in Florida—a meet that is widely considered to be the first pari-mutuel barrel racing in the United States.

On Oct. 18, the Florida DPMW granted Gretna Racing a Quarter Horse license. Gretna is using the license for barrel racing, with Quarter Horses.

The Florida QHRA and the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders and Owners Association, in an emergency motion in a state court and in a state administrative hearing, are challenging the legality of Gretna’s licenses for racing and for a poker room it opened on Dec. 9.

Gretna Racing has been able to hold barrel racing, rather than conventional Quarter Horse racing, because Florida laws specify the breeds of horses but not the types of races that must be held with horse racing licenses.

On Dec. 21, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, said:“It doesn’t appear to me that it (barrel racing) was the intent of the law.”

Scott’s comment, to the Palm Beach Post editorial board, was his first public statement on the race meet at Gretna.

Several members of the Florida House and Senate have said they favor a change in definitions of horse racing, to prevent other facilities from having pari-mutuel barrel racing. The Florida legislature will hold its 2012 regular session from Jan. 10 to March 9.

Read more:

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Pari-mutuel Barrel Racing-The New Face of Barrel Racing

Pari-mutuel Barrel Racing-The New Face of Barrel Racing

A new face of barrel racing has begun in Gretna, Florida. The North Florida Horsemen’s Association (NFHA) and Creek Entertainment Gretna (CEG) has brought barrel racing to a whole new standard that could potentially become very entertaining and provide profits for both barrel racers and betters. Starting December 1, 2011 NFHA/CEG will begin pari-mutuel barrel racing. I know what a lot of you are thinking, what is pari-mutuel barrel racing? I thought pari-mutuel betting was only for the horse racing track?

Pari-mutuel is obviously betting on horses. We have been accustomed to betting on horse races since the Roman days and even before. NFHA/CEG has decided to give the people another opportunity to bet on horses through barrel racing. Essentially barrel racing is a horse race, except you add three barrels and a clover leaf pattern. Like horse racing, usually the fastest, more consistent horse wins more times than not. But as we have seen at the Kentucky Derby, this is not always the case. On any given day, any horse in the field can win, and the reason why we bet the odds and try to get a good payday. Horse racing is the 2nd most attended spectator sport, right

behind baseball. Having barrel racing run as pari-mutuel, I believe, will bring the sport to a level that barrel racers have been dreaming about. Large attendances, more entries, and the bigger payoff will be the chance to finally make a decent profit. This opens the door to many possibilities in barrel racing.

If you look at some of the competitors that will be part of the races that NFHA/CEG is bringing to us, it is more proof that pari-mutuel barrel racing may be a lifeline to success. With races beginning Thursday, December 15, 2011, NFHA/CEG will include 11 time NFR barrel racing world champion and 19 consecutive NFR barrel racing qualifier Charmayne James. Also participating is NFR barrel racing world champion in 2000 and 4 time NFR barrel racing qualifier Kappy Allen, and 2 time NFR barrel racing world champion, 10 time NFR barrel racing qualifier, and the 1988 barrel racing Olympic gold medalist Marlene McRae (Marlene McRae will not be racing, She will be represented by Alissa Burson)

NFHA/CEG pari-mutuel barrel racing will be run in a format similar to that summarized below. There are two side-by-side arenas containing identical cloverleaf patterns. The horses will begin at a starting gate in each arena where there is a barrier that will start the time. The racers will look at a starting light and when it turns green, you go. There will be another barrier at the finish line that will stop the time. First horse across the finish line wins. It will be set up as bracket (match race) competition. The December 15th race will include 16 racers.

Western All American had the privilege to interview one of the 16 barrel racers competing in this event. Alissa Burson is a student and college rodeo athlete attending Colorado State University. This is her first year to college rodeo and she began the year making a huge impact in the Central Rocky Mountain region by winning the short round at her first college rodeo. Alissa is a very bright individual and has an extreme love for barrel racing and her horses. She has dedicated herself to the sport and we believe that there could be a world championship in her future. In our interview, you will learn what it takes to college rodeo and be a student at the same time. Alissa also explains to us about her opportunity in pari-mutuel barrel racing and what impact it could have in the barrel racing world.

Q. Can you tell us about pari-mutuel races, how it works, and how these races may be the future of barrel racing?

In Florida pari-mutuel wagering is allowed on only certain types of events such as racing. Gretna has taken the sport of barrel racing to a whole new level. Here there are two side by side arenas containing clover leaf patterns, a starting gate where the barrier starting the time is, and another barrier on the home stretch acting as the finish line. First horse across the time line wins. The same rules that regard the health of track horses will apply.

This facility has opened the doors to barrel racers, and the sky is the limit. If the courts allow this style if racing and betting to continue, a Casino will be built and purses will be much, much larger. The location here is great with plenty of room to expand. The next addition may be two more arenas for the number of horses racing against each other increases from two to four. Large 4D barrel races will also be hosted.

Q. What are you most excited about entering a race like this?

This race is giving me an opportunity to try something different. Now that there are more factors especially when it comes to the start, the fastest horse will not always win. You cannot break the barrier you must have control over your horse in the alley. Your planning and timing needs to be perfect. What I am looking forward to most is taking off when I see that light go green!

Q. Is there entry fees? How does payback work?

The only thing you will spend your money on for these races is fuel! Not even shavings, stalls, or R.V. Hookups. The pay is coming from the gambling, since a certain amount has to be paid in prize money. The races are in brackets. The winner of each race wins a check. This gives racers a chance to win up to four checks, the last one being the largest.

Q. There have been some negative press about this type of race, such as, some races are rigged track owners are using the horses to add a poker room and possibly slot machines. What do you feel about the race and what do you have to say about the negative press?

The more successful the wagering programs are the higher the purses will be for the racers. This is the same relationship as it is with the track racing. Barrel racing here is highly regulated, equine health is priority, drug testing is done, and all of your paperwork on the horses must be in order. It is not rigged, the field, if anything has become more level. People who are opposed may not understand or have their own benefits from this racing not being allowed. Others possibly are just set in their set in their ways.

Calcutta’s have been preformed, and Las Vegas has hosted the NBHA super show and the NFR year after year. Betting has been around barrel racing, but now barrel racers are given the chance to benefit from the gambling.

I am very enthusiastic about this. The new challenges are very satisfying to my competitiveness. It’s all about having an open mind. I hope people give it a chance, and if some continue not to agree with this that’s fine, they do not have to participate.

Q. You are going to Florida to race against some of the best known barrel racers in the world such as Charmayne James and Kappy Allen. How do you feel being part of this race?

I strongly believe that pari-mutuel barrel racing has a bright future. Participating in this race to me is a chance of a life time especially because my fellow opponents include former world champions Charmayne James and Kappy Allen.

Q. Knowing that Charmayne and Kappy were both world champions, will you try to learn from them about the sport of barrel racing?

When you have the chance to be around people so well established in the rodeo world you should always be ready to learn. This is what I plan to do. It is all about listening and not being afraid to ask questions. When I get to Florida one of the first task will be mastering the timed starts. I will be asking all of the girls for tips.

Q. What did you do to get invited to this race?

Marlene McRae had originally asked to borrow my college rodeo horse, Frisbee, to compete in Florida, but she ended up having prior commitments and was unable to go. Since I had already taken Frisbee down to Marlene, she had the idea of me running Frisbee. The paper work was already sent in so after receiving the permission from Charmayne and North Florida Horsemen’s Association it was decided that I would be riding for Marlene.

Q. When will you be racing?

I will be racing the 15th and 17th of December. The races leading up to the main event will consist of the members. On the 17th Chaymayne James, Kappy Allen, Andrea Cline, myself (Alissa Burson), and four Florida women will be running in the race with the $20,000 added.

Q. How many horses will you take and what are their names?

I am hauling one horse to Florida, her name is Frenchmans Highlight aka Frisbee. This name comes from the fact that she is so smooth and hardly looks likes she’s running. She is a 10 year old buckskin mare. We have both come a long way since my junior year of high school when I first started riding her. In the past year our relationship has come to the point where I think she does it.

Q. There is a $20,000 purse for this race, how exciting are you to race for this kind of money?

Twenty thousand dollars is a lot of money, but going into this I am pushing that to the back of my mind. I want to have nice runs without mistakes. Barrel racing has always been more than riding for a pay check to me. What I plan on taking home is experience and memories of this great opportunity.

Q. What did you do to prepare yourself and your horse(s) for the long haul to Florida?

I had to take all of my finals a week early so I could go on this trip. Frisbee, well she’s been living the good life down at Marlene’s ranch. I believe it is a 14 hour drive from Austin, Texas to Gretna, Florida. Frisbee had a few well earned weeks off after the college rodeos ended, but for the past month she has been conditioned 4 miles a day. When it comes to hauling that far, I am all for walking the horses often and giving them drinks. We ask a lot of our horses, and they deserve to be kept comfortable.

Q. Can you tell us about North Florida Horsemen’s association and how they have treated you thus far?

Well we broke down on Sunday night and had to call them for help at midnight. We had a place to stay the night thanks to them and a driver was sent to retrieve us the next day. They have welcomed us and listened to our opinions. Their priority is to keep is keeping us happy.

Q. This was your first fall season of college rodeo, how did you like it?

Heading to my first college rodeo I was not sure what to expect. When I took third in the long round I was surprised, the ground was really packed and slick. The next day I won the short go. The rest of the rodeos went smoothly as well. We made it back and placed in all but one short go round. The rodeos are well put together. Having fellow teammates to cheer you on is really neat. I really liked my first season, and being in a new state and meeting people really helped make it unique.

Q. What is your major?

I am majoring in equine science. I hope to pursue a career dealing with equine nutrition products or research. It is a perfect major for me.

Q. How is it managing both school and rodeo?

College is a whole new world. I went from my back yard being an arena to having to drive to my horses. When I want to rope I have to haul somewhere also. The first semester for me was all about balancing homework and practice. I always need to remind myself school comes first.

Q. What type of practice routine do you have during the college rodeo season?

During the rodeo season I ride my barrel horse at least 5 days a week. I usually rope twice. Roping the bale is very important too.

Q: What events did you compete in this 2011-12 college rodeo season?

I competed in barrels and breakaway. Breakaway is my fun event, although I really struggled last season because we changed some stuff. I haul two buckskins to all the college rodeos, Frisbee and Taz my rope horse. Although I’m sure some people wonder if it is on purpose, it really is not.

Q: Who has been your mentor to help you with some of the success you have had in rodeo?

I believe it is crucial to have a great support system behind you. My mom and a close family friend Nancy Brimhal have hauled me to all my rodeos this past year. Without their help I would not be on this road chasing my dreams.

My mentor for the past 4 years has been Marlene McRae. She has taught me everything I have needed for that competitive edge. Marlene has definitely been a wonderful role model to me. She is always a phone call away and reviews all my videos.

Q: When did you begin to rodeo and when did you start barrel racing?

Unlike a lot of girls I did not grow up riding horses. Nancy Brimhal taught me to ride horses and run barrels my 8th grade year. I did a few barrel races here and there, but mainly focused on my horsemanship skills. I began high school rodeo my sophomore year. I did not have a nice horse the first season, but I still loved every second. When spring came that year I purchased my first barrel horse from Marlene. I began running at all the local barrel races, and every year I improved greatly.

Q: What is gameday like for you at a college rodeo?

Gameday’s for me at college rodeo consist of making sure Frisbee and Taz are feeling great, observing the arena set up, and checking out the ground. If they are in a small stall I walk them frequently.

After hauling and running, I hose Frisbees legs. Our warm ups consist of me making sure she’s listening after we trot and lope a few miles we are good to go. She knows it is almost our turn when I stretch her legs like she loves, and put her polo wraps on. For roping, I rope the bale a lot and make sure I know my game plan before I get in the box.

Q: What are your plans after college rodeo and will you continue to rodeo?

I want to pursue pro rodeo after college most definitely. I will see where rodeo takes me the next few years and plan according to that. I also plan on having a job dealing with the equine industry.

Q: Do you have a funny or serious story that you would like to tell us about your college rodeo life?

Well I must say I have an embarrassing story from my first college rodeo. I am still teased about it to this day. I missed my calf, literally. I misunderstood the day sheet and thought I was up in an afternoon performance. Turns out there was not an afternoon performance and I was up that morning. My traveling partner called me and said hey you were just turned out. I was new and no one knew me very well, so my first impression to my team was probably “Oh boy, look at this blonde who doesn’t even know when she’s up”. Luckily I redeemed myself in barrels.

Q: Do you give your horse any special grain or supplements during rodeo season? If so what?

I feed whole oats with platinum year round.

Q: What other hobbies or activities to you enjoy besides rodeo?

I enjoy snowboarding and lake sports when I’m not riding. I also like to play intramural volleyball at school.

Q: What is it like to rodeo at Colorado State University? What made you chose this school?

We have a rodeo club, not team unfortunately, so all of us are at CSU for an education. We raise almost all of our money and have to work together to establish practices. I chose CSU to challenge myself with an advanced education.

Q: What is your goal for the 2012 college rodeo season?

Due to a torn ACL and meniscus that occurred in the middle of this college rodeo season from a freak accident, I may be looking at setting out for the spring. Although I was able to run and compete despite the pain a few days after the injury, I will have surgery the day after I get back from Florida. I need to allow myself time to heal properly. It’s kind of a heart breaker since I’m setting so well in the points. The fall season of 2012 for me will be all about coming back bigger, better, faster, and stronger!


Go to to read more about North Florida Horsemen’s Association (NFHA).

Go to to read about Creek Entertainment Gretna (CEG)

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Florida mega-casino bills destined to die, insiders say

Florida mega-casino bills destined to die, insiders say

By Scott Blake
So-called “destination gaming” bills before the Florida Legislature that have ignited a statewide debate on casino gambling don’t seem likely to be approved, according to officials following the legislation.
“I think most observers today think the bill will not pass,” Fausto Gomez, a lobbyist hired by Miami Beach officials to track the bill in Tallahassee, told Miami Beach city commissioners during a workshop on the issue Friday.
Mr. Gomez said the Florida Senate apparently will vote on the pending casino bill but it doesn’t seem likely at this point that the bill will come to a vote in the Florida House of Representatives.
Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez said House Speaker Dean Cannon, a Winter Park Republican, was not optimistic about the bill during a recent meeting with him and Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower.
Rep. Cannon “publicly hasn’t stated his position, but he certainly made me feel like the odds of the bill coming out of the House are not good,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “We understand the Senate is committed to having a vote on the floor. But, in the House, it may not even get to a floor vote.”
State Rep. Richard Steinberg, a Miami Beach Democrat, said the bill’s chances for approval will fade the longer it stays in committees without being heard by the full Senate or House membership.
“Every day that goes by without it being heard, there’s less of a chance of it being passed,” Rep. Steinberg said.
Still, the city manager said the situation could change before or during the upcoming session, which begins in January.
“This bill has a lot of money behind it,” Mr. Gonzalez said, “and bills that have a lot of money behind them have a way of working their way through the process.”
Although Gov. Rick Scott has not stated his position, several members of his cabinet — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — all have come out to oppose the bill, said Mr. Gomez, the city’s lobbyist.
In addition, Mr. Gomez said, the bill recently received “a hostile reception” in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, which handles gambling legislation.
As a result, state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, the Fort Lauderdale Republican sponsoring the Senate bill and a member of the committee, was expected to amend the proposal, he said.
According to Mr. Gomez, the proposed changes would be to create parity on taxes and other issues between the proposed $2 billion-plus casino resorts and existing, smaller pari-mutuels; eliminate gambling at storefront Internet cafes; and increase the casino resort licensing fee to $125 million from $50 million.
“A significant amount of opposition has emerged publicly” to the bill, Mr. Gomez added. “But, obviously, saying it is not going to pass doesn’t mean that the debate [in Tallahassee] can’t go on for the next four or five months in an overheated political environment.”

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Proposed Florida casinos could have a 10 percent gaming tax

Proposed Florida casinos could have a 10 percent gaming tax
Posted by Howard Stutz
Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011 at 11:23 AM
Florida lawmakers are considering setting a gaming revenue tax rate of 10 percent as part of the bill that could set the stage for casino development in Miami and other areas of southern Florida.

The rate would b the fourth-lowest gaming tax in the nation behind Nevada (6.75 percent), Atlantic City (8 percent) and South Dakota (9 percent).

According to the Miami Herald, casino taxes are shaping up as a key flashpoint in one of the fiercest debates in Tallahassee. Some Florida lawmakers want casinos to pay a larger share of their gambling revenue to the public, arguing the industry-backed legislation amounts to a sweetheart arrangement given how profitable the new casino resorts will be.

“This bill is not the best deal for Florida,’’ Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, a West Palm Beach Democrat, told the newspaper. “I’m not prepared to support anything with a tax rate that low. They can afford much higher. We know that.”

Massachusetts set a gaming revenue tax of 25 percent when it legalized three casino resorts in the state.

Las Vegas gaming executives told the newspaper that a grab for more public dollars would leave Florida with sub-par gambling resorts.

Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations for the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which is eyeing a Miami casino, called the 10 percent rate an “incentive” for developing quality resorts.

“It’s going to take some tax incentives to build multibillion-dollar resorts,’’ Abboud said. “As the tax rate goes up, people will peel off their levels of investment … Ten percent would put Florida in the lower tier for taxes. But it’s looking to be in the upper tier of development.”

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Gulfstream To Offer Super Hi 5 With 15 Percent

Gulfstream To Offer Super Hi 5 With 15 Percent Takeout
Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino announced today 16 giveaway days during its 2011-2012 racing season, beginning with opening day December 3.
In the first of four commemorative shirt giveaways throughout the season, all fans who purchase a seat opening day in Ten Palms, Silks or the grandstand will receive a free Gulfstream Park polo shirt. The shirt giveaway will be repeated for those purchasing seats on Saturday, Jan. 28 (Florida Sunshine Millions); Saturday, Feb. 11 (Donn Handicap); and Saturday, Mar. 31 (Florida Derby).
In addition to the quartet of polo short giveaway days, Gulfstream Park will also feature a dozen other giveaways.
On Sunday, Dec. 4, Gulfstream Park’s popular calendars will be distributed to the first 5,000 fans in attendance with no purchase necessary. Calendars will be handed out at the north and south track entrances.
All other Gulfstream Park giveaways will require the purchase of a small or large live program. A coupon located inside the program will be valid for giveaway items, to be distributed in the Breezeway, on the following dates:
Saturday, Dec. 10 – Latin American Racing hat
Sunday, Dec. 18 – Coffee Mug
Friday, Dec. 30 – Automobile Sun Visor
Saturday, Jan. 7 – Hat
Sunday, Jan. 15 – Kids’ Bracelet
Sunday, Jan. 29 – Fanny Pack
Saturday, Feb. 4 – Snuggy
Thursday, Feb. 23 – Bottle Opener
Saturday, March 3 – Poster
Wednesday, March 28 – T-Shirt
Saturday, March 31 – Insulated 6-Pack Cooler Bag

All giveaway items are one per person and while supplies last.

Gulfstream has also lowered the minimum wager on its trifectas to 50 cents.

The popular 10-cent Rainbow 6, which produced a record total pool last April of $5.018 million, will return with a 20 percent takeout and will be contested over the day’s final six races.

Gulfstream also announced there will be two Pick 4’s each day, rolling daily doubles and Bet-3’s as well as exactas, trifectas and superfectas in each race.

There will be a 10-cent minimum wager on the Rainbow 6 and Superfecta, 50-cent minimums on trifectas, Pick-4 and Pick-5, and a $1 minimum on all other wagers, including the Super Hi

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Slot machines arrive @ Miami Jai-Alai

Miami Jai-Alai’s multi-million dollar casino-expansion takes a huge step forward Wednesday with the arrival of more than one thousand shiny, new slot machines.

The Vegas-style slot machines will be unloaded Wednesday and placed in Miami Jai-Alai’s new state of the art casino which also features poker and dominos.

Miami Jai-Alai is the third facility in Miami-Dade County, along with Magic City Casino at the old Flagler Dog Track and Calder Casino and Race Course, to take advantage of a measure approved by voters in January 2008 that permits Las Vegas-style slot machines at area pari-mutuels. However, Miami Jai-Alai is the only pari-mutuel in the country where visitors can gamble on dominos.

Casino Miami Jai-Alai is located at 3500 NW 37th Avenue in Miami.

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barrel racing

A barrel racing demonstration will take place Wednesday in Gretna, a show of what’s to come a month later when pari-mutuel wagering begins at the site off Interstate 10 in Gadsden County.

No bets will be taken this week on the hoof-pounding, clover-leaf-patterned sprints around obstacles, but in December there will be gambling on barrel racing and poker hands at the Creek Entertainment Gretna development.

Other contests going on now or soon to start in court and at state regulatory agencies are just as competitive and have millions of dollars at stake, including a January county-wide vote to approve slot machines in Gadsden County.

Advocates of barrel racing see jobs for impoverished Gadsden County, further development of horse and entertainment industries in Gretna, and millions of dollars for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and their minority-owner partners.

Opponents see a move away from their own quarter horse racing institutions and businesses and bemoan what they say could be developing in Gadsden County. They say traditional quarter horse racing on a flat track would lead to a breeding industry growing around the track and much larger economic impact.

“This was not the way we envisioned this happening,” said Steve Fisch, a Tallahassee veterinarian and president of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association. “If you open the door to allow a substitute for quarter horse races, you’ve really just opened the door” for barrel racing to replace quarter horse and thoroughbred racing all around the state.

Dueling horse associations representing different constituencies — quarter horses, thoroughbreds and barrel racers — are filling up the email inboxes of elected officials and regulators and flooding Internet forums.

Former state Sen. Al Lawson sponsored amendments that expanded the opportunity for pari-mutuel permits when he was in the Legislature in 2010. He says the conflict is about dollars.

“The beef is who’s going to get the money. I think that’s what the big issue is about,” Lawson said. “I think the quarter horse people think the other tracks might want to do more barrel racing and that would be money not coming to them.”

Fisch agrees that’s a fear.

“If you open the door to allow a substitute for quarter horses races, you’ve really just opened the door (to fewer horses needed for barrel racing),” Fisch said. “It’s all about getting rid of the horses.”

But those in Gadsden County representing the horses that will race at the Gretna facility, say it’s going to do plenty of good.

Wesley Cox, a life-long Gadsden County resident and director of the North Florida Horsemen’s Association that represents riders at the Gretna track, told Gadsden commissioners Nov. 1 that barrel racing is generating plenty of excitement. Job creation and developing horse-related businesses, he said, would go into overdrive if voters approve slots in a county-wide referendum Jan. 31.

Last weekend, hundreds showed up for a job fair at the Gretna site.

Permits and purses

Applicants to state regulators for pari-mutuel permits and licenses must submit an agreement with associations representing a majority of horse owners racing at their track.

For Hialeah Park in Miami-Dade County, that’s the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association. Fisch and his association have a six-year agreement with the owners of Hialeah Park that guarantees a flat amount for purses. In the 2011-12 racing season, the agreement calls for Hialeah to put up purses of $3.6 million for a 10-week racing schedule. Future years call for larger purses.

The purses include provisions for breeder awards to Florida-accredited horse owners and breeders. Fisch’s FQHRA accredits the horses and a majority of the accredited stallions stand for breeding at his own AVS Equine Hospital in Leon County.

Fisch says big purses, with the associated breeders’ awards for Florida-accredited horses, is needed to attract and grow an industry.

“The states that have a flourishing industry, they have a breeding program,” Fisch said.

A unified horsemen’s association, he says, is necessary.

“If you have a bunch of splinter groups, you’ll never have a way to influence” state policy or national interest among horse owners, Fisch said. “Several small organizations will not build that up. We’re not trying to be the king of anything.”

Gretna Racing’s circumstances and business model call for a different setup. The purses, to begin, are much smaller, with the promise of bigger things to come, particularly if slots are allowed in Gadsden County.

“Growth and expansion of jobs would be highly dependent on slots,” Cox told commissioners.

The Gretna Racing deal with Cox’s North Florida Horsemen’s Association calls for purses to come from percentages of the take from race betting, card room action and simulcast wagering, in line with state law. The seven-year deal stipulates purses will come from 6 percent of the betting pools for on-site races, 4 percent from gross receipts of the card room and 50 percent of net revenue from simulcast wagering on races at other tracks.

The agreements also include purses supplemented by “such voluntary contributions to the purse pool that Gretna Racing shall make in its sole and absolute discretion.”

To start, purses will be $38,000. That reflects the fact that the pools of money from gambling will start at zero.

“They still seem to be moving in the direction in keeping with the concept” in the legislation, Lawson said of Gretna Racing. “Because there’s a lot of money involved, owners are looking to find a way to make this happen the quickest way they can.”

A flat track for quarter horse racing is planned at Gretna, but it has yet to be built.

A barrel racing track is a faster way to get started. Jay Dorris, president and CEO of Gretna Racing’s parent company, PCI Gaming, told Gadsden commissioners there’s an urgency to get slots before voters. The only way to qualify for a referendum in 2012 was to have racing in December of this year and January of next year. And getting an early 2012 referendum may be required for slots.

“The Legislature’s under pressure to shut the door” of local-option referendums on slots, Dorris said.

The quickest way to meet the full-race schedule was with barrel racing.

Other challenges besides the vote, approved for Jan. 31 by the Gadsden Commission last week, await. Fisch and his FQHRA last week challenged the racing license approved by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering for Gretna Racing. A spokesperson for the department said a decision is still pending.

An October ruling from the 1st District Court of Appeal confirmed a lower-court ruling that the Legislature had the authority to allow slot machines at Hialeah. That decision could face Florida Supreme Court review and a ruling that could negate the legislation on which the Gretna permit and slots referendum depend. A legal challenge to the Gadsden commission’s decision to hold the January referendum could also be coming.

Fisch feels betrayed. He said legislation opening up pari-mutuel permits rode on the backs of quarter horses, that it was the promise of a growing quarter-horse industry in Florida that, in part, swayed lawmakers to approve expanded gambling.

“As soon as they had what they (wanted), they didn’t need us anymore,” Fisch said.

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Greyhound decoupling law.

A bill that would do away with the requirement for dog tracks to run live races if they want to operate card rooms was filed again Monday.

The measure (HB 641) came close to passing last legislative session, passing both the House and Senate. But both chambers never agreed on identical language. Dog lovers and greyhound race tracks support the idea, while breeders and some greyhound dog owners opposed it.

Other opponents also thought it would just lead to most greyhound race tracks becoming full-fledged casinos, rather than race tracks that also have card games or in some cases, slot machines.

This year, any bill related to gambling is expected to get tangled up in the debate over a proposal to allow up to three massive luxury casinos in South Florida.

From us:

Last year as this bill was making its way through the system, Jacksonville Greyhound Racing, which operates live events at the Orange Park Kennel Club and satellite wagering at The Best Bet, a former track on Racetrack Road in St. Johns County, said they would keep dog racing regardless of any changes to the law.

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