At the monthly meeting of the Ohio State Racing Commission earlier Thursday, a resolution authorizing live racing dates for 2014 at Scioto Downs were approved. Also, the commission has reportedly postponed the granting of a race license to the new Miami Valley Gaming and Racing because of concerns the track does not plan on having any mutuel clerks and rely solely on self-serve wagering machines.
Scioto Downs reached an agreement with the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association in advance of the meeting for the Columbus harness racetrack to conduct 90 live days next year. Without this agreement, the Ohio Revised Code would have required the racetrack to schedule 100 days of live racing.
The live day minimum at all of the state's seven racetracks will eventually be based upon the volume of video lottery terminal gross gaming revenue during a calendar year.
Racing at Scioto Downs in 2014 will begin on May 9, and conclude on Sept. 27.
Two racetracks facing a legislated deadline of Dec. 31 to determine the percentage of VLT revenue going to horsemen addressed the commission. While Thistledown and Scioto Downs have not reached an agreement with horsemen, all principles expressed optimism both agreements will be forthcoming.
Chairman Robert K Schmitz reiterated his statement concerning the year-end deadline. He said the commission would move forward and set the percentage at each racetrack by rule if the parties can not agree. Ohio law mandates the distribution of between nine and 11 per cent of VLT proceeds to horsemen.
The number of Ohio racetracks housing VLTs has doubled to four after Northfield Park opened Wednesday and Miami Valley Gaming and Racing opened its new facility last week.
Concern was raised by Miami Valley offering wagers on simulcast races without pari-mutuel clerks available to take wagers. Commission Executive Director Bill Crawford said that customers were displeased and told him they would consider visiting River Downs, the nearest racetrack, instead.
Jim Simms, general manager at Miami Valley, said Churchill Downs, one of two principal owners, understood concerns about this radical approach that is being tried in order to reduce labor costs. He added that Miami Valley has people available to help customers place wagers at self-serve machines. Current plans are not to have mutuel clerks available when live racing begins.
Mr. Schmitz said those involved in the operation of Miami Valley Gaming and Racing need to reconsider a proper mix of live pari-mutuel clerks and self-service betting machines. (with files from OSRC)