Quote from United Florida Horsemen on today’s Gadsden County slot referendum (1/31): Real Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park has out-earned and outperformed Gretna’s “pari-mutuel barrel racing” by over 99 percent—all with no cardrooms, slots or bailout from the taxpayers of Florida.

 
“Notwithstanding the fact that the Gadsden County Slot referendum was held based the unlawful premise of “pari-mutuel barrel racing,” the travesty is that, regardless, of tonight’s outcome, the people of Gadsden County and the City of Gretna are being cheated out of exponentially more jobs and long-term economic development they could have had if Gretna Racing LLC were holding legitimate Quarter Horse racing instead.   For those who doubt that fact, the truth is now in the numbers:  Real Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park has out-earned and outperformed Gretna’s “pari-mutuel barrel racing” by over 99 percent—all with no cardrooms, slots or bailout from the taxpayers of Florida.   As for job creation?  Hialeah has over 800 employees who received their pari-mutuel license at the facility.  Gretna has only 38.   Proof that real jobs created by real horse racing are something slot machines can never replace.”
 
For more information, contact:
Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association:   Kent Stirling (305) 628-2989 or khs0813@bellsouth.net
Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association & Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association: Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM (850) 510-9650 or sfischDVM@avsequinehospital.com
 
 
www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org
www.FloridaHorsemen.com

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Ignoring Florida Legislature, Pending Litigation, Gretna Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing Seeks Regulatory Loophole Protection

Documents–Gretna Pari-Mutuel Barrel Racing Seeks Regulatory Loophole Protection
Seeking to protect its cardroom and pending slot operations by solidifying the very loophole that enabled “pari-mutuel barrel racing” in the first place, Gretna Racing LLC owners David Romanik and Marc Dunbar have filed a petition to amend Rule 61D-2.001, entitled “General Definitions.”  In response, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has scheduled a five-hour March 13, 2012 workshop on the issue just days after the 2012 Florida Legislature officially concludes.

The audacious move comes amid Florida legislators’ pending efforts to correct the State’s legal definition of “horse racing,” the absence of which has led to a relative avalanche of pari-mutuel permitholders attempting to leverage the “Gretna Model” to similarly exploit existing the State’s live horse racing requirements to secure cardrooms and, ultimately, slot machines. 

Late in 2011, absence of a clear legal definition of “horse racing” was interpreted by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to allow for “pari-mutuel barrel racing.”  By successfully exploiting this loophole, Gretna Racing was deemed to meet Florida’s live racing requirements, thereby enabling the opening of its 365-day per year cardroom and poker facility.  At that point having filed minimal “racing dates” that also fulfilled Florida’s two-year live racing requirement for slot machine licensing, Gretna Racing’s Romanik and Dunbar quickly convinced Gadsden County officials to hold their desired slot referendum, despite the cloud of massive and costly litigation mounted by Florida horsemen strongly indicating that “pari-mutuel barrel racing” was, in fact, based on an illegal license award by state regulators.

Now, despite the pending legislative and litigation firestorm, and contrary to the related stern disapproval of Florida Governor Rick Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, pari-mutuel regulators will once again entertain Gretna Racing by considering Romanik and Dunbar’s proposed Rule amendment petition.  Essentially, amending Florida’s regulatory definition of “Contest” in the proposed manner would protect and perpetuate not only Gretna Racing, but its six copycat license applicants in the regulatory pipeline, thus firmly entrenching the expansion of gambling at the cost of decimated Florida horse racing industry jobs.

“The State of Florida licensed Gretna ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ without any enabling legislation, regulatory hearings or public input,” recalled Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling.  ”The last time I checked, you can’t just ignore the law, then go back and fix it when someone points out in hindsight the fact that you broke it!”

Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association President Steve Fisch noted, “Once again, Florida regulators are usurping the role of the Legislature and paying short shrift to the resulting job loss and economic drain—both of which have been stunningly quantified in this very short December/January time period.  The fact remains:  Legitimate Florida Quarter Horse racing is out-earning ‘pari-mutuel barrel racing’ in dramatic proportions.  To say one is the same as the other—especially in this tight budget year—is simply cheating Florida taxpayers across the board.”

The petition and its related documents are attached.

For more information, contact:

·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association:   Kent Stirling (305) 628-2989 or khs0813@bellsouth.net

·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association & Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association:  Dr. Steve Fisch, DVM (850) 510-9650 or sfischDVM@avsequinehospital.com

  

The United Florida Horsemen are:

·         National and Florida Barrel Horse Association (24,000 members)

·         American Quarter Horse Association (350,000 members; 7,163 Florida)

·         Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (439 members)

·         Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association (1,300 members)

·         National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (35,000 members)

·         Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (5,000 members)

·         Florida Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association (630 members)

·         U.S. Trotting Association (25,000 members)

 

www.UnitedFloridaHorsemen.org

www.FloridaHorsemen.com

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Paulick Report Notes Florida Horsemen: Horse racing, state losing out on Gretna “pari-mutuel barrel racing” deal

 
Reprinted from The Paulick Report:  An international on-line horse racing publication by noted Thoroughbred racing authority Ray Paulick  
 

The controversial Gretna barrel racing venue in North Florida isn’t exactly blowing the turnstiles off their hinges.  According to figures from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, the first month of pari-mutuel barrel racing produced a handle of $30,312.  That’s $1,500 per day – or $200 per race.

Below is a press release from the United Florida Horsemen, a group which continues to fight the licensing of barrel racing operations as a way to secure other forms of gambling, such as slots and card rooms.

Airdrie Stud

Together with former third-generation Gulfstream Park attorney David Romanik, Gulfstream Park lobbyist Marc Dunbar is the part-owner of Gretna Racing, LLC, which is causing a deliberate horse racing industry decimation and dramatic loss of State revenue by having unilaterally introduced “pari-mutuel barrel racing” in North Florida.  This outright mockery of Florida law is enabled by these individuals’ own non-profit corporation known as the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association.”

Because the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association” is controlled by Gretna Racing owners Dunbar and Romanik, revenues from Gretna’s cardrooms and, ultimately, slot machines, can easily be funneled back to their self-owned Gretna Racing, LLC, not distributed to the “North Florida Horsemen’s Association” members who have unwittingly signed away their State and Federal purse negotiating rights (copy of the NFHA “Pledge” is attached).  These unsuspecting horsemen and women don’t realize that their rights to Gretna Racing’s revenues would otherwise be ensured under both Florida law and the Federal Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978, the intent of which was never to have tracks own their own horsemen’s unions, since without ensuring lucrative purses to attract competitors, horse racing of any kind ceases to be a proper economic driver and job creator for any state.

If legitimate Quarter Horse racing sanctioned by the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (“FQHRA”) was taking place at Gretna Racing instead, these horsemen’s interests would otherwise be lawfully protected.

What’s worse, the irony is that legitimate Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association sanctioned Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park is out-earning Gretna “pari-mutuel barrel racing” by 99.1 percent, as reported to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.  Gretna only pays $19.64 per day in pari-mutuel taxes.

With only 36 horses needed to complete Gretna’s entire “pari-mutuel barrel racing” meet, versus nearly 1,000 that are stabled right now at Hialeah Park, the FQHRA’s success in turn, spurs economic development and job creation in both the racing and breeding industries since that revenue is properly shared with horsemen according to State and Federal law,  thanks to the FQHRA.  As further evidence, Hialeah’s legitimate Quarter Horse meet has 803 licensed pari-mutuel employees registered at its facility, whereas Gretna Racing has only 38 comparable licensees.  Documented attendance at Hialeah Park averages 4,100 per day.  The Associated Press and other major media reported Gretna Racing to attract only 20-50 people per day.

But the fact is, Dunbar and Romanik are actually now profiting at Gretna Racing from the very same business plan that they, themselves are suing the law-abiding horsemen’s associations for.  During 2011, Dunbar and Romanik launched a spurious lawsuit against the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and the Florida Quarter Horse Breeders’ and Owners’ Association in which they claim damage from what the Florida Legislature ordained these statutory organizations to do:  Protect horsemen’s rights.

Nearly 450,000 members of United Florida Horsemen feel that the Florida Legislature should not support or negotiate with any person or entity that is currently engaged in a lawsuit designed to destroy horsemen’s livelihoods through self-dealing by means of dummy, self-owned horsemen’s associations designed exclusively to funnel pari-mutuel, card room and slot machine profits back to the track owners, rather than to properly disburse it to horsemen according to law. 

 
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Florida Taxpayers Subsidizing Gretna Barrel Failure: State of Florida Cheated Out of 99.1 Percent Of Revenue It Could Be Earning Through Legitimate Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (FQHRA) Quarter Horse Racing

For every day that Florida taxpayers foot the litigation bill to keep “pari-mutuel barrel racing” afloat at Gretna Racing LLC, the State loses at least 99.1 percent of the revenue it would otherwise get from legitimate, FQHRA-sanctioned Quarter Horse racing such as that being held at Hialeah Park.

Because pari-mutuels pay a percentage of taxes based on wagering handle, Florida received only $19.64 in daily pari-mutuel tax payments from Gretna “barrel racing” during December and January.  Factor in the legal time and expense paid for by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, this tiny return was overwhelmed by the cost of complex taxpayer-funded litigation to sustain Gretna.

In a stark day-to-day, meet-to-meet December/January comparison, an average daily attendance of 4,100 patrons of real Quarter Horse racing at Hialeah Park wagered $2,672,358.03 during the same time period—a revenue difference of over 99 percent.  

 

Gretna Racing

 

Hialeah

Park

December/JanuaryLive racing days

 

17

 

 

14

Live events/performances

353/31

 

117/14

 

 

 

 

Total Wagered Live

$33,388

 

$2,672,358.03

 

 

 

 

Total Average Wagering Per Event, Per Day

$94

 

$190,883

       
Number of Employees Licensed at Facility

 

38

 

 

803

 

 

 

 

Average Daily Attendance

20-50*

 

4,100**

Total purses paid

$38,000

 

$3,800,000

 

 

 

 

Amount $$ Spent by Florida Taxpayers to Defend Gretna  Barrel Racing

unknown

Amount $$ Lost by Horsemen Defending Against Hostile Gretna AND State Litigation

Nearly $200,000

 

 

 

 

*Gretna attendance noted by

AP News coverage

 

**Hialeah exact turnstile count reported to the State of Florida

 

    Non-litigation data provided courtesy of the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering  
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Florida AG on Slot Referenda: Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) DBPR may not issue a slot machine license in any county outside of Miami-Dade and Broward that seeks approval of slot machines by local referendum (see s.551.102(4)) without new legislative authorization for such a local referendum

In response to a question posted by Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”) Secretary Ken Lawson, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi issued an Opinion yesterday, January 12, 2012 addressed to Secretary Lawson on the subject of slot machines.  The Attorney General has concluded that the DBPR may not issue a slot machine license in any county outside of Miami-Dade and Broward that seeks approval of slot machines by local referendum (see s.551.102(4)) without new legislative authorization for such a local referendum.

“The United Florida Horsemen welcomes the Florida Attorney General’s opinion on slot referenda, which emphasizes our collective support for the responsible expansion of gambling,” said Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Executive Director Kent Stirling.  “Obviously, any slot referendums based on questionable or unlawfully awarded pari-mutuel licenses should never be entertained under any circumstances.   Such activity does not represent the legitimate pari-mutuel industry in Florida, which has carefully adhered to Florida laws and regulations in the expansion thereof, and strongly condemns any activity to the contrary.  Further, our respective industries have entirely underwritten programs to ensure responsible gambling statewide.”

To view Attorney General Bondi’s Opinion 12-01, please follow the hyperlink below:
http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JMEE-8QFQJC/$file/1201.pdf

To view Secretary Lawson’s request for an opinion, please follow the hyperlink below:
http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JMEE-8QFQKU/$file/Request1201.pdf

Media inquiries contact:

Re: Opinion 12-01 issued to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation regarding slot machine referenda and Section 551.102(4), Florida Statutes.

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Gulfstream Park Cancels Unsanctioned Quarter Horse Racing Scheduled for December 31, 2011

After long and intense negotiations, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, together with Gulfstream Park, were pleased to announce that an understanding in principle has been reached on a tentative new purse agreement.  Both sides are pleased with the upside potential for Thoroughbred racing in Florida.  Importantly, Gulfstream’s planned, unsanctioned Quarter Horse race scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on December 31, 2011 that was so vehemently opposed by the Thoroughbred horsemen has been canceled as part of the agreement.

“I think the horsemen will be pleased with the results of the negotiation, which should mean increased purses going forward,” FHBPA President Phil Combest said.  “Naturally, its a relief that Gulfstream’s unsanctioned Quarter Horse race has been canceled, inasmuch as the precedent it set could have resulted in enormous negative impact for Florida’s racing industry.”

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Legitimate Florida Quarter Horse Racing at Hialeah Park Posts All-Time, All-Sources Christmas Eve Handle of $381,751

Hialeah, FL, December 24, 2011 – With all eight Christmas Eve races broadcast for wagering on TVG, Hialeah Park recorded an all-sources mutuel handle of $381,751 on Saturday December 24, a new all-time high for Quarter Horse racing at this historic South Florida racing emporium.

The new high-water mark was over $75,000 more than the previous record handle, set during the 2010-2011 season.

Quarter Horse racing in Florida has been guided to success by the State’s only lawfully recognized Quarter Horsemen’s association, the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association (“FQHRA”).

The FQHRA is dedicated to carrying out the high standards of the American Quarter Horse Association—an organization that has been in existence for hundreds of years and holds the humane treatment of horses among its highest principles. 

FQHRA was formed to represent the people who have an interest in racing the American Quarter Horse in Florida in matters pertaining to business, property, and activities of the association.  One of the primary goals of the FQHRA is to ensure that the welfare of the American Quarter Horse is paramount and that every American Quarter Horse at all times be treated humanely and with dignity, respect and compassion.  The FQHRA is committed to promoting American Quarter Horse racing in Florida along with providing beneficial services to its members and to serve as a positive communication link between the members of the FQHRA and the American Quarter Horse Association.

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