Historic Racing, Florida International University partners with City University of Macau, No Casinos releases list of Legislative candidates signing anti-gambling pledge
- One of the types of gambling expansion that Florida discussed during this year’s Legislative Session involved “historic racing”. Historic racing is a type of electronic gambling where bettors wager on real previous pari-mutuel races, from which the identifying information has been removed. This means that the wagering is primarily a game of chance, while viewing the end of a real race. Although not as fast as slot machines, they can still have several wagers in a minute. Florida is not the only state considering historic racing. According to the Austin American-Statesman, a State Representative in Texas has written to the Texas Attorney General, seeking an opinion as to whether the Texas Racing Commission has the authority to approve historic racing without specific legislative authority.
- Miami Today has published a story about a partnership between Florida International University (FIU) and City University of Macau. The story speculates about a relationship in which FIU’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program may work with Macau’s large gambling and hotel industry.
- No Casinos, a Florida based anti-gambling group, released a list of Florida Legislative candidates who signed the group’s anti-gambling pledge. The Tampa Tribune has provided the story and a list of those candidates. While most of the candidates are in conservative rural areas of the state, or in the Greater Orlando area where the existing tourism industry is strongly anti-gambling, I note that several of the candidates are from Miami-Dade or Broward counties. It is probably not a smart political move for candidates from South Florida (where support for legal gambling is strong) to have taken take this pledge.
Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association sued by unhappy member, Ebro Greyhound Track debate on whether greyhound racing should continue, and comparison between expanded gambling and expanded legalization of marijuana.
- According to the Ocala Star-Banner, The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (FTBOA) has been sued by one of its members, who alleges multiple improprieties on the part of the FTBOA. The lawsuit includes allegations that the FTBOA has become too political, that the officers and directors have been elected improperly, and that the Legislature improperly designated the FTBOA as one of the state recognized horse racing associations in Florida. The Plaintiff formerly owned the land where Oxford Downs is located, and the FTBOA has filed a lawsuit against the current owners of Oxford Downs, as mentioned in a prior entry in this blog. The attorney for the Plaintiff is a partner in the Gretna facility which was granted a license for pari-mutuel barrel racing. The FTBOA also was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Gretna facility.
- An article in the Panama City (FL) News Herald contains a response by the owners of Ebro Greyhound Park to general allegations of animal cruelty in greyhound racing. Rick Hess’ family owns Ebro, and he defends thoroughbred racing, arguing that animal rights groups are trying to end thoroughbred racing in Florida, which would also hurt greyhounds and jobs. Carey Theil, the Executive Director of Grey2K USA Worldwide, a leading group seeking to end greyhound races, agreed with Theil’s statement that they are trying to eliminate greyhound racing, and went on to explain reasons that Theil believes greyhound racing should be eliminated.
- The Daytona Beach News-Journal published a column by Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson in which Gerson compares the growth of gambling to the growth of legal marijuana. Gerson states that both bring in new tax dollars and are supported in the name of personal liberty. Gerson states that “both find common ground in encouraging and exploiting the weaknesses and addictions of citizens.”
AP Publishes Article on Hard Times at Greyhound Tracks, and Florida Lottery Sets New Annual Sales Record
The AP published a good story on July 9 on the hard times facing racing at the greyhound tracks in Florida, using Flagler Dog Track (a/k/a Magic City Casino) as an example, quoting Izzy Havenick, a member of the family that has owned Flagler since the 1950’s. This blog has referenced Havenick before. The article discusses the move to decouple racing from casino gaming. The article quotes Lonny Powell , President of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (also previously discussed in this blog) expressing concerns about decoupling because of the precedent that it could set for Horse Racing.
According to the News Service of Florida, the Florida Lottery has set a new annual sales record of over $5.3 billion, with over $1.4 billion of that going to education funding.
Will the Florida racing dates wars between Hialeah and Gulfstream return? Fight between Florida Horsemen and Oxford Downs continues. Gaming financial news
- “Its Baaack…” For many years, a regular fight in Tallahassee was the Legislative battle over racing dates between Gulfstream Park and Hialeah Park. This finally ended when Hialeah ran its last thoroughbred race in 2001. Hialeah lost its pari-mutuel permit, and then returned as a quarter-horse track. However, according to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Hialeah is once again considering thoroughbred racing. Although Hialeah says that it would like to work cooperatively with Gulfstream, those of us who went through racing date wars wonder if this is the first step towards a renewed racing date battle. Hialeah has also announced a $60 million dollar expansion to their Casino facility.
- The fight between United Florida Horsemen ( which includes the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners’ Association, and the Florida Quarter Horse Association) and Oxford Downs continues, according to an excellent article by Carlos Medina in the Ocala Star-Banner. UFH contends that the Oxford track is not a real pari-mutual, just a front for a card room. “It’s preposterous. The State of Florida never ceases to amaze me”, … It’s a phony baloney deal they are pulling off.” said Kent Stirling, President of the FHBPA. The FTBOA has filed for an injunction, alleging that Marion County should not have permitted Oxford Downs to open. Tony Mendola, one of the owners of the track, disputes the allegations. Although Mendola admits that there is currently no clubhouse, permanent restrooms, concessions are limited to water and soda, and the races are minimal, he explains that once the card room and simulcasting are producing revenue, that the facility will improve.
- According to Bloomberg, Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. of Australia is buying Video Game Technologies, Inc, of Tennessee, for $1.3 billion dollars. This would increase Aristocrat’s number of gambling machines from 8,200 to 28,400.
- Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded its outlook for the United States gaming industry from stable to negative.
IN THE BEGINNING, there was Las Vegas. A rib was taken from the side of Las Vegas, which became Atlantic City. Las Vegas and Atlantic City begat Tunica and Riverboats and Indian Casinos and Pennsylvania and on and on and on. Soon people (mostly gambling experts, analysts, and business owners) began wondering when all this begetting would start to cause problems with saturation in the gambling industry. We now know.
According to the Associated Press, Atlantic City, which started 2014 with 12 casinos, may be down to 9 casinos by the end of 2014. The Atlantic Club has already closed, Revel says that it will close unless another company purchases it, and Caesars Entertainment says that it plans to close down the Showboat Casino at the end of this August.
A look at the map of the Mid-Atlantic region helps to explain the woes of Atlantic City. New Jersey is surrounded by New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Delaware has long had casino gambling, New York is adding it, and Pennsylvania has become the 600 pound gorilla of casino gambling in the east, second only to the 800 pound gorilla of Nevada. Maryland and Connecticut are also nearby, adding to the competition.
Although the ongoing expansion of casino gaming continues, and it is difficult to determine where and when saturation will occur, we now have a clear example that saturation can and will occur when there are too many gambling opportunities with too few gamblers.