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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Florida House Gaming Committee March 13 Meeting: United Florida Horsemen Statement

This is a press release from United Florida Horsemen, a group of quarter horse and thoroughbred interests in Florida (standardbred interests declined to be part of the group).  This press shows in Florida they are fighting 'decoupling' as it adoption threatens the entire racing industry.  Additional comments follow.   

March 13, 2014--United Florida Horsemen, a consortium of nearly 7,000 Florida Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racehorse owners and trainers said about this morning’s Florida House Gaming Committee meeting:

“We look forward to continuing to educate our lawmakers on the billion-dollar economic impact of Florida’s internationally known horse racing industry.   We urge our legislators to seek the proper information on why decoupling would put our horsemen out of business—and their thousands of employees out of work.  

If Florida is truly open for business, we must focus on fostering the thousands of existing horse racing small businesses that are already here--as well as those looking to come to Florida--by ensuring that our full schedules of racing days remain intact.  This will promote the same investment and very economic impact that lawmakers are earnestly trying to create.

A brochure on the Florida horse racing industry's economic impact is attached.

For a video replay and meeting materials on this morning's meeting, click here:

In Iowa and Florida, there are attempts to decouple casinos from the racetracks.  While Iowa may be a unique enough situation that it may not have a national impact, should decoupling happen in Florida, expect the precedent to be set and watch other states attempt similar legislative changes.

On top of that, in West Virginia there is a proposal to change the mandatory commission paid to the racing industry to an annual appropriation in the budget where the legislature decides how much racing gets every year, if anything at all (look at New Jersey).

I expect racing interests to fight the good battle but racing's strategy can't be just slot revenue; it needs other strategies to keep the industry going.  Failure to have multiple strategies leaves racing a sitting duck.  

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