Another year is soon to pass and with it is the anticipation of a new year and with it many challenges – both old and new. There are a multitude of issues facing owners and trainers both in the present and those looming on the horizon. The first issue is PURSES.
As president of the FHBPA, I am often asked, “what’s up with the purses in South Florida”? Owners and trainers hear about record handle but the purses do not reflect the positive news reports. Handle is booming to record levels but purses are flat. Why is this?
The short answer is that wagering through the windows at the track on live races is now not the main source of track revenue. Money wagered on live races at the track is a small number compared to what is now bet through off track, simulcast/ADW sites. Beyond anyone’s imagination, within the last twenty years, off track wagering has become by far the biggest and main wagering revenue source. Nationwide, there are billions of dollars being bet through home computers and smart phones. A wager through the window on a live on site race, creates the highest percentage takeout that goes to purses.
The percentage that goes to purses taken from wagers made through computers and smart phone betting is much less. The challenge for the horsemen with this historic shift of wagering, is to make sure that we are receiving our fair share for purses, revenue from off track/on line wagering sites.
Another challenge facing the horsemen is the threat of decoupling. Decoupling is the removal of the connection of the casino to the funding of purses and running races. Most pari-mutuel facilities in Florida, after only ten years of the being granted slot casinos, are trying to decouple (get out of the racing game) and become stand alone casinos. This should be fought at all costs.Decoupling removes millions of dollars from horse owners purses and goes into Casinos pockets. Decoupling also stops the requirement to run live races. As long as a track is coupled to a casino, there is a statutory guarantee of live racing.
WITH DECOUPLING – LIVE RACING IS REDUCED OR ELIMINATED.
Decoupling stops slot money for the funding of purses. Decoupling eliminates live racing. Any form of decoupling, for any South Florida pari-mutual facility, will eventually lead to total decoupling for ALL pari-mutuels in Florida.
Partial decoupling (dogs, Hialeah, Calder etc,) is a virtual guarantee of the eventual total decoupling of all thoroughbred tracks in Florida. The FHBPA looks forward with great anticipation to the future. We must stay involved. We must be included and become an intrigal part of the process of finding solutions that impact us.
The FHBPA is here to continue to protect what we have that is currently in place as we find ways to expand, improve and look for avenues to expand our industry.
Please contact the FHBPA offices anytime when we can be of assistance. If in town please stop by and have a coffee. We encourage and appreciate your input and involvement. We are here to help and assist the horsemen.
All the Best,