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Slots at PA racinos drop 5.4% in March

April 02, 2013

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Slots revenues at Pennsylvania's six racetrack casinos fell 5.4 percent for the month of March compared to same time period in 2012, resulting in a $1.42 million drop in funding to state's Race Horse Development Fund (RHDF), which supports live horse racing and breeding in Pennsylvania.

The figures are part of a continuing decline in slots at revenues at Pennsylvania's racetrack casinos, which have seen a cumulative decline of 6.1 percent for the first nine months of the fiscal year – July 2012 through March 2013. The steady decline has resulted in a corresponding decrease of $12.58 million this fiscal year to the state's Race Horse Development Fund, which provides funding for race purses and horse breeding incentives. The data was compiled by the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition based on figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

"Slots revenues at Pennsylvania racetrack casinos and revenues to the Race Horse Development Fund have decreased eight of the last nine months, due largely to increasing gaming competition from neighboring states,” said Pete Peterson, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition. "With revenues on a steady decline, the proposal to transfer an additional $31 million from the racing fund to pay for other budget line items is making less and less sense. The racing and breeding industry have already been forced to cut purses and breeders incentives. It doesn't make sense to inflict further pain on the industry because of budget shortfalls in other areas.”

Peterson also noted that the latest figures show that that the Corbett Administration's budget estimates of revenues going into the Race Horse Development Fund are overly optimistic. After the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition pointed out the inaccuracies of the Governor's initial budget projections when they were released in February 2013, the Administration quietly revised the budget estimates. The two sets of budget numbers can be viewed online here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/133626462/PRHDF-Revised-Estimates.

Based on current figures showing a cumulative decrease of 6.1 percent to the fund year-to-date, the coalition estimates actual revenues to the racing fund will total $261 million this fiscal year. In contrast, the Corbett Administration's original budget projections for the current year – issued in February 2013 – projected the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund would bring in revenues of $289.5 million in the current fiscal year. The Administration recently revised its budget projections downward to $278.5 million, which is $17 million less than the Coalition's projections.

To reach the Administration's budget projections for the current fiscal year, slots revenues at Pennsylvania's racetrack casinos would need to increase by an average of 16 percent for April, May and June -- the final three months of the fiscal year -- compared to same period in 2012. Given the steady rate of decline throughout the past nine months, the odds of that occurring are extremely long. That would require gross terminal slots revenues at the state's six racetrack casinos to reach $451 million for the next three months -- a $61 million increase compared to the same period in 2012 when the state's racetrack casinos totaled just under $390 million in gross terminal revenues.

The Race Horse Development Fund enhances live horse racing and breeding programs in the Commonwealth by supplementing purses and enhancing race horse breeding incentives. The fund was a crucial component of Act 71 of 2004, the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, which legalized slot machine gaming in Pennsylvania in an effort to save the Pennsylvania horseracing and breeding industry.

The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition attributes the continued decline in slots revenues at the state's six racetrack casinos to increased competition from Ohio, New York, and Maryland -- as well as increased in-state competition from an additional casino in Valley Forge Pennsylvania.

About the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition

The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition is a statewide group representing more than 10,000 owners and trainers of the horseracing industry in Pennsylvania. Members of the coalition include the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, and the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association.

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