With major media now reporting that “decoupling” could be a “done deal,” Florida’s racehorse owners, trainers and breeders want the Florida Legislature to know they strongly oppose the proposal in any form.
The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents over 6,000 Thoroughbred racehorse owners and trainers who do business in the State of Florida, has joined 6,500 horsemen from the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, Florida Quarter Horse Breeders and Owners Association, and other partners to produce NoDecoupling.com, a Web site that will serve as a repository for advocacy tools, along with updates on the status of anti-decoupling efforts.
“The reason we even have slot machines in Florida today is because voters agreed to give our successful horse racing industry a fighting chance to compete against other states–states that legislate casino revenue as an incentive for their own horse racing industries,” FHBPA President Bill White explained. “Now casino-only interests want to jettison their prior commitment to Florida’s economy and just forget all of our horse racing businesses and the thousands of people they employ.”
The NoDecoupling.com campaign got a substantial boost in visibility this week with the support of SNL Financial Founder Reid Nagle, whose company sold for $2.25 billion last month. Nagle, who is now a Florida Thoroughbred racehorse trainer, runs several ancillary horse racing-related businesses in Central Florida. Those operations employ approximately 35 people collectively.
Florida mandates that pari-mutuel facilities must hold live horse racing, dog racing or jai alai games in order to be licensed for card rooms and/or slot machines. Reportedly being considered as Florida renegotiates its Compact with the Seminole Tribe, decoupling would sever that tie.
In a decoupled scenario, pari-mutuel permitholders would no longer be required to hold live horse racing, giving Florida horsemen strong concern that the entire resulting economic cycle would cease abruptly. As it has in one or two other states that have effected a decoupling policy, the elimination of live racing days as an incentive to do business means horse breeding, training and racehorse ownership would grind to a rapid halt as horsemen move to other, more competitive markets.
Unlike other “coupled” states that are more successful in the horse racing industry, Florida does not legislate the infusion of slot machine revenue into “purses” (the prize money generated by wagering revenues for which horsemen compete), but rather relies upon privately negotiated contracts between independent horsemen and pari-mutuel permitholders to ensure the continued economic benefit.
- Read the news coverage about the Seminole Compact and decoupling by THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA’s Dara Kam HERE.