Florida Racing Industry Launches "No Decoupling" Campaign

The ad campaign will run in all major statewide political publications.

Press release

The decoupling of slot machine revenues and the horse racing industry would threaten the sport in the state of Florida.

With major media now reporting that decoupling could be a "done deal," Florida's racehorse owners, trainers, and breeders want the Florida Legislature to know that they strongly oppose the proposal in any form.

The Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HPBA), which represents more than 6,000 Thoroughbred racehorse owners and trainers who do business in the state, has joined 6,500 members and supporters of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association and Florida Quarter Horse Breeders and Owners Association to produce NoDecoupling.com, a website that will serve as a repository for advocacy tools, along with updates on the status of anti-decoupling efforts.

"The reason we even have slot machines in Florida today is because voters agreed to give our successful horse racing industry a fighting chance to compete against other states -- states that legislate casino revenue as an incentive for their own horse racing industries," said FHBPA president Bill White. "Now, casino-only interests want to jettison their prior commitment to Florida's economy and just forget all of our horse racing businesses and the thousands of people they employ."

The "No Decoupling" ad campaign will run in all top major statewide political publications to let Senators and Florida House members know that not only will decoupling trigger a statewide gambling avalanche, but extract money out of Florida's economy and siphon it back to casinos, leaving Florida's horse racing industry without any tools to compete against other states more interested in developing their own positive horse racing economies.

The campaign got a substantial boost in visibility this week with the support of SNL Financial founder Reid Nagle, whose company sold for $2.25 billion last month. Nagle, who is now a Florida Thoroughbred racehorse trainer, runs several ancillary horse racing-related businesses in central Florida. Those operations employ approximately 35 people.

Florida mandates that pari-mutuel facilities must hold live horse racing, dog racing, or jai-alai games in order to be licensed for card rooms and/or slot machines. Reportedly being considered as Florida renegotiates its Compact with the Seminole Tribe, decoupling would sever that tie.

In a decoupled scenario, pari-mutuel permit holders would no longer be required to hold live horse racing, giving Florida horsemen strong concern that the entire resulting economic cycle would cease abruptly. As it has in one or two other states that have effected a decoupling policy, the elimination of live racing days as an incentive to do business means that horse breeding, training, and racehorse ownership would grind to a rapid halt as horsemen move to other, more competitive markets.

Unlike other "coupled" states that are more successful in the horse racing industry, Florida does not legislate the infusion of slot machine revenue into purses, but rather relies on privately negotiated contracts between independent horsemen and pari-mutuel permit holders to ensure the continued economic benefit.

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