Posts Tagged ‘Racing’

Floridians Could Decide Future of Poker, Greyhound Racing in the State

 Floridians Could Decide Future of Poker, Greyhound Racing in the State

As debate regarding the industry rages on, a proposed constitutional amendment could put the decision on the future of greyhound racing – and, by extension, live poker – in the hands of the voters of Florida.

Florida’s greyhound racing industry has for decades been a major draw for gamblers – and for the Florida government, a bonanza of tax revenues – but it has fallen on hard times of late. Deaths of racing greyhounds, drugging issues and other grievous injuries to the animals have been a part of the bad news that has affected those in the business. The Florida Constitution Revision Commission, which has the power to put different constitutional issues on the ballot for the 2018 midterm elections, is considering putting a resolution up that would let the voters have the power of whether to shut the lucrative but under siege industry down or not.

“This is, for me, a matter of conscience,” commission member and state Sen. Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican who is sponsoring the proposal, stated to the Florida Times-Union’s Jim Saunders. “Our society has changed. We are evolving as a people. We are becoming more sensitive to those who occupy this world with us, regardless of their species, and to those who are going to follow us for generations to come. And that’s a good thing.”

The General Provisions Committee decided on Thursday to put the potential resolution in front of the entire Executive Committee. Called Proposal 67, the resolution would ban greyhound racing effective December 31, 2019. According to Saunders, the original plan was for the ban to be slowly phased in with an effective date of July 21, but the General Provisions Committee moved up the date. “We should do this as quickly as we feasibly can,” commission member Brecht Heuchan said to Saunders.

There is a lengthy history of greyhound racing in Florida, dating back to the 1930s. With the advent of horse racing and, to some extent, casino gaming, the greyhound racing industry has had difficulties. That was changed when, in the mid-2000s, the greyhound and horse racing tracks could start offering live poker at severely restricted limits.

Within time, poker became a major part of the greyhound tracks. In 2010, the restrictions on poker were lifted and the industry exploded, bringing many of the major poker tours to the state. Cash games, once limited to just limit games, became plentiful and lucrative at the greyhound tracks. But there has always been one problem with the linking of poker to the greyhound tracks.

By state law, the only way that a greyhound track can offer a poker room is if they offer a significant racing schedule and pari-mutuel betting. There have been discussions for several years about separating the greyhound tracks and the poker rooms, but they have been unable to separate the two industries. If Proposal 67 were first to get on the ballot in 2018 and then be voted through by 60% of the citizenry of Florida, there would be significant issues because of the linkage.

If the Florida Legislature had to decouple the racetracks from the poker rooms, they would have to revise their gaming laws. That has been extremely problematic for legislators in the state, who also must contend with the powerful Seminole Indian tribe and their sovereign rights to casino gaming in the Sunshine State. It is unknown what path would have to be taken to get the poker rooms to be able to stand alone from the racetracks, especially if the Seminoles objected to gaming being offered in a free-standing situation (something that breaks the gaming compact the tribe has with the state).

The proposed constitutional amendment isn’t necessarily looking at gambling or poker being offered at the tracks. Many of the members of the constitutional committee are more concerned with the perceived issues that have plagued the racing industries for years. As Lee stated to Saunders, “As we’ve evolved, we’ve banned all sorts of activities that have been considered cruel to animals: bullfighting and cockfighting and all kinds of things. To me, this is just the next step on that plane of becoming more sensitive to this kind of inhumanity.”

The post Floridians Could Decide Future of Poker, Greyhound Racing in the State appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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Horse Racing Groups Weigh In on California Poker Bill

 Horse Racing Groups Weigh In on California Poker Bill

We wrote briefly earlier today about the amendments added on to California AB 2863, a bill which would legalize online poker in the state and how they were preceded by a letter to the bill’s co-author, Assemblyman Adam Gray, from a group of tribes who desperately want a “bad actor” clause included in the final bill. Another interested coalition, composed of members of the horse racing industry, also penned a letter to Assemblyman Gray late last week to express its thoughts on the bill; the letter partially supported Gray’s efforts, but also expressed concerns about how the bill might affect the horse racing stakeholders.

The letter, dated April 21st, 2016, came from the following groups: Thoroughbred Owners of California, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, The Jockeys Guild, California Authority of Racing Fairs, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, California Thoroughbred Trainers, Los Alamitos Racing Association, and SEIU California.

The goal of the letter was to give Assemblyman Gray the proper background on in the horse racing industry in California and to explain where the interested parties stand on the bill. They explained that when ADW (Advance-Deposit Wagering) – basically internet horse racing betting – was authorized in 2001, California racing industry revenues took a 40 percent. Since then, though the industry “has completely restructured its business model to embrace the new ADW technologies” and has done very well.

Once of the compromised in AB 2863 is that horse racing operators are excluded from obtaining internet poker licenses, a move that was made to appease the hard line tribes who want as much of the online poker industry as possible to themselves. In exchange, the horse tracks and other racing stakeholders are promised at least $ 60 million annually from online poker licensees, to be used as prize money and the like.

In the letter, the horse racing groups were adamant that they want that money:

We recognize the $ 60 million annual payment in AB 2863 is intended to compensate the racing industry for being excluded from eligibility for i-Poker licenses, the loss of the industry’s current Internet gaming exclusivity in the State, and the projected loss of market share for ADW. Given this sizeable impact on our business, we must condition our support for the legislation on a firm commitment to maintain the $ 60 million minimum payment throughout the legislative process. We are not prepared to negotiate on this baseline number.

They continued:

We note that the current draft of AB 2863 contains blanks for the up-front license fee and tax rate. Because the $ 60 million fee is to be solely funded from license fees and taxes, we must look closely at what the actual fees and rates are to assess the likelihood that the $ 60 million will be available. Our continued support for the legislation is predicated on the ultimate reasonableness of those numbers. On a related point, we believe AB 2863 should be amended to confirm that in the event the $ 60 million minimum were not fully funded in a given year, there would be a carry over into the following year(s) with first dollars from future i-Poker license fees and tax revenues going to cure the deficiency.

They want their fair share and dammit, they are going to get it.

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Florida Horse Racing Tracks Fear Potential ‘Decoupling’ of Poker Rooms

 Florida Horse Racing Tracks Fear Potential ‘Decoupling’ of Poker Rooms

For the past year, there has been a great deal of discussion regarding the gaming laws in the state of Florida. Governor Rick Scott has been in deep negotiations with the Seminole Indian tribes regarding some changes that the state would like to make in the bylaws and agreements between the two entities. If this new legislation in the state of Florida is passed, however, the state’s horse racing industry – which is linked heavily to the state’s live poker room industry – is fearful that those new laws would hurt their industry in particular while potentially aiding other outlets.

According to the Ocala Star Banner’s Carlos Medina, a meeting of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association on Friday touched on the subject of having poker rooms linked to racetracks around the Sunshine State. Under the current regulations in Florida, poker rooms for the most part are linked to horse and dog racing tracks or to other sporting outlets such as jai alai. The discussion regarding removing the legal requirement of having a racing schedule or match dates to be eligible to have poker rooms isn’t a new approach, but it is gaining some traction this year because of the discussions regarding gaming in the state.

Simply put, if the racetracks and jai alai frontons are allowed to have live poker without the necessity of having to conduct a race schedule a certain number or days out of the year or put on a jai alai contest, then the horse racing industry fears that most will not run a full schedule of races – potentially wouldn’t run races at all – if they could keep running their lucrative card rooms.

The negotiations between Scott and the Seminoles has reached a logjam, according to Medina, which means that all potential gaming options are on the table including the separation of card rooms and racetracks. Under the previous agreement, the Seminoles contributed $ 400 million per year to keep other outlets from being able to offer Las Vegas-style gaming on their properties. If the Florida legislature were to allow for other areas of the state to operate those games such as blackjack or slots, then the state would lose out on a healthy portion of that yearly payout from the Seminoles.

Medina mentions that, if Scott and the Seminole Indians are able to reach an agreement, it would still have to be passed through the Florida legislature. This is where things would become a bit problematic because, as Medina says, the entirety of Florida’s gaming industry would then be under a microscope for change. The legislature could just as easily make the change in the current laws regarding race tracks and poker as it could simply pass the Scott/Seminole agreement through the body without any discussion.

The lobbyist for the thoroughbred group doesn’t see this happening, however. “The Legislature is not in a position to pass the bill as a standalone,” Matt Bryant, the FTBOA’s lobbyist, stated to Medina. “Once the pari-mutuel and gaming issues get involved, that’s when all the permutations come into play.” If the issue regarding the race tracks operating the poker rooms is a sticking point in the negotiations between Scott and the Seminoles, the legislature could very well repeal the law currently on the books.

“Decoupling is first, foremost and everything. That will be our really strong focus. We’ll be dealing with this issue, in all likelihood, the whole session,” Lonny Powell, FTBOA CEO and executive vice president, is quoted by Medina.

Poker has enjoyed a booming business since previous laws barring no limit games and betting limits were repealed in 2010. In response to those changes, many of the top tournament circuits, including the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker Circuit (among others) began to hold major tournaments in the Sunshine State. What effect any changes to the laws regarding poker in the state of Florida would have are unknown, but apparently those in the horse racing industry are keen to keep the current rules intact to preserve their livelihoods.

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