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FINALLY! A Tax Break on Slots . . .

FINALLY!  A Tax Break on Slots . . .
May 27, 2010
By Kent H. Stirling, FHBPA Executive Director
This year’s Florida Legislative session brought the long awaited tax break on slots to Florida’s beleaguered Pari-mutuel facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.  This reduction of the onerous 50% gross tax on slots to 35% means a rather nice increase to overnight purses, at least to the purses at Calder and Gulfstream on July 1st of this year.   The Standardbreds, Dogs and Jai-alai may not get much more in their purses depending on the kind-heartedness of the management of their respective tracks.
Calder which is shooting at average overnights of $170,000 to $175,000 before the tax break supplement should add an additional $14,000 to $15,000 per day to their overnights on July 19th, bringing them at least close to $190,000.  Next year Calder purses should increase by $30,000 over the base of $170,000 to $175,000 projected for this meet.  This disparity is caused by the tax decrease encompassing only the last 6 months of the Calder meet and this particular 6 months contains 115 of the 150 race days.  Next year they will have a full year of slot revenue to add to overnights.
Gulfstream will have 10 months of the tax break (July 1 – April 24, 2011) to put into the 2011 race meet which means that average Gulfstream overnights paid should top $250.000 per day next year and go even higher the following year.
It seems like only yesterday that the FHBPA Board of Directors was being assailed in certain print media and by certain horsemen for being stubborn, stupid and unreasonable for tying the 2008 purse contract to a slots contract for a track that was a year away from breaking ground for a slots facility.  Had your FHBPA not had such foresight and backbone and gone ahead and signed a purse contract without slots attached as some of the most vocal insisted upon, something similar to the following would have happened.  Calder would have built their $85M slots facility and then said to the horsemen something along the line of, “We will give you just what everyone else in these two counties are paying in purses, about 1.5 percent.  We are not going to pay you the rate that a company that is going bankrupt (MEC – Gulfstream Park) is paying you currently along with a guaranteed percent of any future tax reduction also going to purses.”
The FHBPA would then have faced this take it or leave it low-ball percent for purses and the horsemen would have demanded we take it while angrily telling us how stupid we were to negotiate such a poor deal for purses.  Our slot percent of gross slots at Calder will be 12% on July 1st , only because of your FHBPA.
If you think purses still aren’t high enough just consider what they would have been should that above scenario have taken place.  The next time you see FHBPA President, Sammy Gordon, or contract chairman, Barry Rose, or committee members Phil Combest, John Penn, Tim Ritvo, Mike Nyman and Manny Tortora, or for that matter any member of the FHBPA Board who stood solidly behind their contract committee, a brief thank-you for a job well done might be in order.