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Decoupling Job Loss Would Dwarf Seminole Compact Layoff Threats, United Florida Horsemen Warn

Florida Horse Racing, Florida Harness Racing
Florida’s Horsemen are Urging Legislators Not to Roll the Dice With Our Businesses

Noting this week’s story on the stalled Seminole Compact decoupling bills by‘s Jim Rosica, United Florida Horsemen said:
“We’re glad Governor Scott has brought up the issue of job loss in Florida, because it’s critical to understand that the passage of HB 7109/SB 7072–the “Seminole Compact” bills, or ANY legislation containing pari-mutuel decoupling will cause a very immediate and dramatic statewide loss of horse racing jobs in Florida’s Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and Standardbred industries.”
In Marion County alone, the horse industry employs nearly 20,000, according to the Ocala/Marion County Chamber Economic Partnership.
“Decoupling would expand gambling by creating stand-alone casinos, letting those casinos keep all the profits instead of circulating them back through Florida’s economy through horse racing and agricultural breeding jobs.  It’s no wonder casino-owned pari-mutuels are fighting so hard to get it!” Horsemen said.
Last month, thousands of people employed by Florida horse racing and breeding signed their name to “No Decoupling” petitions delivered to the Florida Legislature, pleading with Governor Scott and Florida lawmakers to save their families and futures by not enacting decoupling.

  • “This is my livelihood, Governor Scott and this is the only work I’ve ever done.  Please don’t take my job that I love from me,” wrote Jennifer Lewis, a horsewoman originally from New Mexico. 
  • “I think the governing bodies need to do their due diligence and realize what a mistake this would be,” said Joanne McNamara from Louisville, Kentucky. 
  • “Decoupling will take away my livelihood as a trainer in Florida and the jobs of 10 people that I employ,” explained Tammy Levy, a trainer in Ft. Lauderdale.

“Let’s be clear:  Horse racing is about people.  It is about jobs and big business that grows our economy,” United Florida Horsemen explained.  “We maintain hope that’s what the Governor cares about more than casino-driven politics.”
National data shows that Florida has earned its reputation as the “Horse Capital of the World,” second only to Kentucky.
“Driven by Big Casinos, decoupling was presented to legislators as an option.  We want to believe that legislators will choose the right path once confronted with the ugly, job-killing realities of decoupling in the Seminole Compact bills.  Remember, Florida horsemen are also constituents, homeowners, voters, taxpayers, parents and neighbors.  We are those very same Florida families our legislators have committed to protect.”
By causing live racing days to be eliminated and the economic incentives that have propelled Florida horse racing and breeding to top industry positions in the nation, decoupling would effectively stifle horse racing in Florida, and with it the many small businesses who keep the industry running–from horse breeders, to trainers, to feed manufacturers and dealers, to blacksmiths and even obscure sole proprietors like jockey agents and blacksmiths.
“The purpose of gambling in any form is to create revenue and economic impact for the state.  Not to create the optimal environment for casino profit,” horsemen cautioned.
“The labor-intensive nature horse racing makes it the most desirable and economically impactful form of gambling because it is driven by the long-term business investment of breeding.  Unlike slot machines, horse racing returns money into the economy because of all the people required to breed and maintain a racehorse, leading to general revenue, green space and statewide economic development.  By letting pari-mutuels stop live racing, decoupling signals to wealthy horse racing investors that Florida is ‘closed for business.'”
The horse industry represents a $2.62 BILLION annual economic impact on the Ocala/Marion County economy alone.

Some headlines from this week’s legislative action:

Decoupling Still Threatens:  Though the deck is still stacked against us, Florida horsemen dodged a bullet in the Senate Tuesday — and probably in the Legislature during the 2016 session — when lawmakers postponed further discussion of sweeping changes in Florida gambling law.  Read the update HERE.

Not Dead Yet:  The Florida House all but declares defeat on Seminole Compact, gambling legislation.  Their lips were saying “not dead yet” but House leadership otherwise made clear that the Seminole Compact and gambling legislation were goners for this Session.  Read the story HERE.

Also . . . 

Florida Would Expand Gambling Predicated on an Illegal Activity?
Decoupling Is Crazy:  Why Subtract from Florida’s Economic Gains?
Legislators, Don’t Vote to Kill Horse Racing — Demand Facts