March 12, 2014- The Ohio HBPA has completed 10-year VLT revenue sharing agreements with Thistledown Racetrack, LLC for Thistledown and with Beulah Park Gaming Ventures, Inc. for Mahoning Valley Racecourse.
“These agreements are very favorable for the Ohio thoroughbred industry and are the result of months of difficult negotiations. The agreements will provide stability and reward the patience of owners, trainers and breeders in the state. The agreements provide the ability for the industry to plan for the future” said Ohio HBPA President Tim Hamm.
Listed below are some of the provisions in the agreements which are beneficial to Ohio’s horsemen.
• Over 10.5% of the video lottery terminal (VLT) income generated at each facility will be paid to the Ohio HBPA with a minimum of 80% of those funds to be distributed as purse money at the track where it was generated. The Thistledown agreements provides for retroactive payments for VLT revenue generated at the track from April 2013 to present. The remaining 20% of the video lottery terminal income paid to the HBPA will be used for a variety of programs including but not limited to the Ohio Thoroughbred Fund, Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Health Fund, thoroughbred retirement programs, equine research and advertising and promotion of thoroughbred racing in the state.
• Ensure a sufficient number of stalls at both tracks throughout the length of the agreements. 1040+ at Mahoning Valley and 1,050 at Thistledown. The agreements also provide that at least 80% of the stalls must be allocated to Ohio horsemen each meet to reward those horsemen who have continued to support Ohio racing during difficult times recently.
• Provides for a minimum of 200 non-overlapping days of live racing in Northern Ohio between the two tracks beginning in 2015 and lasting throughout the length of the agreements. The racing calendar between the two tracks will cover a minimum of 50 weeks each year with the ability to train and stable continuously between the two tracks throughout the length of the agreement. These provisions were important due to the fact that while minimum live racing dates are provided in the ORC, the possibility of a dates war for the prime summer racing dates going forward was a very real concern for the OHBPA. These agreements alleviate those concerns and provide stability for Ohio horsemen.
• These agreements are contracts between the parties and as such serve to insulate Ohio’s horsemen from the very real risk of changes in the law which have taken place in many jurisdictions including Ohio’s surrounding states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Indiana. Horsemen in each of those states have seen their share of gaming revenues generated at their tracks reduced by law changes.
• Recognition of the Ohio HBPA as the exclusive authorized representative of all horsemen engaged in thoroughbred racing at the respective racetracks.
• The Thistledown agreement provides for 30 days of training and stabling at the track prior to each racing season and 7 days of stabling after the final day of live racing each season. The Mahoning Valley agreement provides 14 days of stabling and training prior to each racing season and for 7 days of stabling and training following the last day of live racing each season.
• Additional provisions in the Mahoning Valley Racecourse agreement call for the building of 84 dorm rooms which will contain two beds per room. A recreation and vending area is also included in the facility.
• A 50/50 division between the track and horsemen of all export fees.
There are many additional provisions in these comprehensive agreements which are too numerous to detail in this limited space including arbitration and other dispute resolution processes between the parties.
“I’m thankful to the members of the Ohio HBPA board of directors for all of their assistance and support through these very long and difficult negotiations” said OHBPA Executive Director Dave Basler “I am very excited about the future of thoroughbred racing in Ohio but much work remains to be done” said Basler.
Average per day purse distribution at Thistledown’s 122-live racing day meet which begins on April 18 will be between $100,000 and $105,000 per day for the first condition book not including additional funds from the OTF which should add approximately $7,000 to $10,000 per day on average for the meet.