Letter To The Editor: A Tale Of Two Governors, With DeSantis Prioritizing Florida Horse Racing And Arizona’s Ducey Thumbing His Nose At It

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made clear there won’t be a tribal gaming deal in his state unless the needs of the state’s horse racing industry have been properly addressed.

Efforts to expand gaming in Nebraska saw legislators urge pro-gaming advocates to first talk to the state’s horsemen about responsible ways to expand.

And then there’s Arizona.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey not only isn’t giving the time of day to our state’s horsemen, he’s rebuffing requests to just pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. And he’s doing it while pushing for a gaming expansion bill that would deliver just a fraction of what other states receive in gaming revenues – all while allowing the horse racing industry to remain dying on life support.

Gov. Ducey wants to allow sports teams to modernize their revenue stream by legalizing sports betting across the state and add sports books at taxpayer-funded sports stadiums.

And he wants Arizona tribes to be able to modernize the gaming options offered at their casinos – which they want more of, of course.

Meanwhile, Arizona is the only state in the country that still requires advance deposit wagering bets to be placed on a landline phone. But Gov. Ducey doesn’t want us to be able to modernize.

The state’s horsemen simply want to modernize wagering, adding historical horse racing machines at tracks and OTBs, to provide the revenue needed to survive. There are no requests for a government hand-out or to have facilities subsidized by taxpayers. We want to help ourselves with a sustainable business model at existing locations, under existing pari-mutuel laws – which have existed in Arizona for decades.

Those pari-mutuel laws just need modernizing.

Arizona state Sen. David Gowan has sponsored a bill to do just that and seems to have the support of his legislative colleagues.

But not Gov. Ducey.

We’ve seen what modernizing wagering and adding HHR can do for a state – Virginia is thriving, bringing that state more than $100 million in new revenues, while it has doubled the purses in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, legislators worry that Gov. Ducey is asking sports books for just a fraction of the $10 million a license costs in other states. They also worry that the 5% fees charged to tribal gaming aren’t close to the 20% paid by tribes to other states.

Sen. Gowan’s Senate Bill 1794 would bring the state more than $100 million in new tax revenues, lead to more than $300 million in capital investments, including a new track at Arizona Downs, and see daily purses increase from $80,000 to $300,000.

And it couldn’t come at a more dire time. In Arizona, handle is down $55 million a year, purses are down $5 million a year, live race attendance is down 45%, Turf Paradise is for sale and Arizona Downs has struggled to keep the lights on.

And yet as Gov. Ducey takes steps to modernize gaming in Arizona, he won’t even allow the state’s horse racing industry to have a seat at the table, as he ushers in plans to allow the state’s billionaire sports team owners to not just modernize their operations, but to thrive.

It all called to mind something DeSantis said last week.

“If it’s something that benefits the state, we obviously have an obligation to work to do that,” he said when asked about tribal compact negotiations there and the importance of ensuring the state’s horse racing industry is able to survive.

Why is that?

“Ultimately, I don’t represent the Seminoles,” he said. “I represent Florida businesses and employees. We want to make sure those folks do well under whatever arrangement may be reached between the State of Florida and the Nation of the Seminole Indian Tribe.”

Arizona residents and small business owners should only be so lucky.

– Bob Hutton, President of the Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, and Leroy Gessman, Executive Director of the AHBPA

If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, please write to info at paulickreport.com and include contact information where you may be reached if editorial staff have any questions.

The post Letter To The Editor: A Tale Of Two Governors, With DeSantis Prioritizing Florida Horse Racing And Arizona’s Ducey Thumbing His Nose At It appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.