Columbus, OH --- The Ohio State Racing Commission is finalizing a plan to disburse what could be more than $2 million in casino revenue by the end of the year.
By law the OSRC receives three percent of revenue from non-racetrack casinos, three of which are now open in Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo. A fourth in Cincinnati is scheduled to open in 2013.
As of late October the OSRC fund had grown to more than $1.77 million. The first casinos opened in May of this year.
State statute says the revenue can be used to support purses, breed development funds, and salaries for staff that oversee such programs.
OSRC chairman Robert Schmitz had asked industry stakeholders to offer suggestions on how the money should be divvied up. A plan is expected at the Dec. 13 racing commission meeting.
“Our intent is to get money into purse pools as of Jan. 1, 2013,” Schmitz said Nov. 29.
Racing dates for 2013 haven’t been officially awarded, but this year only Beulah Park and Northfield Park raced in January.
Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association president Steve McCoy said the organization has agreed with requests for dates from the state’s four harness tracks. He noted, however, a question about Lebanon Raceway dates was raised by the membership.
Lebanon Raceway submitted a request for 52 nights of racing in the winter, spring and fall.
“We will most likely agree to it, but some horsemen asked us to delay a decision until we find out the action on the casino revenue,” McCoy said. “Horsemen want to consider the possibility of more dates (should Lebanon be awarded purse money), but it’s more likely there will be 52 days of racing with a purse increase.”
Schmitz indicated his preference would be the same number of racing dates with higher purses.
Scioto Downs is currently the only racetrack in Ohio with video lottery terminals, which allowed it to greatly increase purses for most of its 2013 meet. The other three harness racetracks -- two of which want to relocate -- won’t have operating VLTs until 2014 at the earliest.
A 2011 law states the percentage of revenue to purses from VLTs will range from nine percent-11 percent. Horsemen’s groups and the racetracks, however, still have no deal on the exact percentage; nine percent of VLT revenue at Scioto is being placed in an escrow account.