Columbus, OH --- At the monthly meeting of the Ohio State Racing Commission earlier today, a resolution authorizing live racing dates for 2014 at Miami Valley Gaming and Racing was granted conditional approval. Racing begins there on February 7.
The resolution (2014-1) contains nine conditions. Eight relate to commission concerns the racetrack has addressed or is in the process of fixing.
Two relate to pari-mutuel wagering: Miami Valley must have a minimum of five stationary mutuel clerks, five walk-around mutuel clerks and 13 self-service machines in the grandstand during live racing programs. In an area designated as the simulcast room, the racetrack is required to have one walk-around clerk and 12 self-service machines available to customers.
Other conditions included a deadline of Feb. 5 to complete the installation of a toteboard to display wagering information, camera towers and a secure fence around the paddock. Miami Valley must also complete other upgrades to the paddock and replace a fence separating the racing surface and the grandstand apron.
Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley, another racetrack planning to open this year, provided an update on construction plans that did not include any new information. A Penn National Gaming representative said the company plans to build stalls for 988 horses once an agreement with horsemen’s representatives is reached and signed.
Commission Chairman Robert K. Schmitz anticipated more progress and said he expected building plans to go forward in advance of a signed agreement. He said the new Thoroughbred racetrack will not receive a permit to operate without having 988 stalls available. The track needs a racing permit before Video Lottery Terminal play can begin.
Each of two racetracks already operating VLTs, Thistledown and Scioto Downs, announced at the meeting that agreements with horsemen on the percentage of terminal revenue that will accrue to horsemen has been reached. Neither agreement has been signed by parties to it. No revenue percentage was announced.
Ohio law mandates the distribution of between nine and 11 percent of VLT proceeds to horsemen. Mr. Schmitz said two racetracks that opened VLTs in December, Miami Valley and Northfield Park, now have six months from each opening date to reach similar agreements with horsemen.
Horsemen will be direct beneficiaries of two commission actions at the session. It approved the Ohio Thoroughbred Race Fund and Ohio Standardbred Development Fund programs for 2014. Both programs benefit the state’s agricultural interests and stimulate the breeding of horses here.
Each is expected to distribute in excess of $4.3 million this year. The Thoroughbred program benefits breeders and horse owners. The Standardbred fund spends its money on stakes races only while an effort in its early stages to develop breeders’ awards is underway.
Both breeds benefit from the disbursement of casino funds paid to the commission and it approved the disbursement of $2.06 million received during the period between October and December. Each has received in excess of $2.19 million from the total amount paid in taxes ($11.52 million) to the commission.