by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

Earlier this week, we were the first to publish Bill Farish's editorial on why slots were an important step in give aid to Kentucky's horse industry. Claiming that as a Republican this shouldn't be a partisan issue but instead a Kentucky issue, Farish took Senate President David Williams to task over his divisive tactics of pitting Republicans against Republicans.

Late last night, the Paulick Report received an email response to Farish's editorial from Williams. While 7:45 on a Friday night is generally a slot relegated for the announcement of John Edwards' love child, we felt it important to give both sides of this issue a proper hearing. What follows is the counter argument to the pro-slots lobby. Where do you stand? -

Bradford Cummings


By David L. Williams,
(R-Burkesville), president, Kentucky Senate

I never cease to be amazed by the manner in which slot interests and their spokesmen such as Bill Farish continue to mislead Kentuckians. The proposed expansion of gambling in Kentucky is bad economic policy for the state and for the horse industry.  Those tied to the slots may do their best to raise the specter of false divisions and false hope, but the reality of the situation is unchanged.
Fact #1: Expanded gambling will flood Kentucky with funds that will skew our body politic.
Bill Farish failed to mention his family’s financial affiliation with the tracks as well as to the 527 “issues” group formed by the tracks and their supporters to circumvent campaign finance laws in order to intimidate legislators to support slots.  During the recent special election, his pro-slots 527 ran negative ads that never even once mentioned slots.  State after state with gambling in the mix has been rife with stories of political corruption.
Fact #2: Once slots arrive, horse-owners and trainers will get the short end of the stick.
In Florida, horsemen have complained that their promised doubling of purses has never materialized.  In Ohio, under the Governor’s executive orders, owners were left to their own devices to negotiate purses with the slots people.  In West Virginia, purse money was shifted back to state government to make up for shortfalls.  And in Kentucky, have we forgotten the bitter battle waged by Churchill Downs attempting to force our horsemen to accept a smaller slice of the revenue from Internet bets?  Or the fact that Churchill Downs pays to transport horses to its own Arlington Park in Chicago in direct competition with Ellis Park?  Once slots come in the picture, players will thrill to the speed of the machine and ignore the speed of our ponies.
Fact #3: Slots will not “save” Kentucky’s budget.
Gambling is an unstable source of revenue.  In spite of gambling, Illinois raised taxes.  Hardly a session has passed without Indiana’s casinos and racinos asking for yet another tax break. And gambling revenues are in a decline nationwide sending governments addicted to them scurrying for additional funds.
Fact #4: The horse business is beset with problems endemic to the industry itself.
The horse industry acknowledges that it breeds too many horses and runs too many races in a national economy that is fragile.  Racing fans are growing older.  The industry’s weak marketing has done little to help.  Very few people these days have the discretionary cash to plunk down a cool million for a horse, or even tens of thousands of dollars.
During the Special Session in June, Senate Democrats and Republicans unanimously passed legislation that would have nearly doubled funding for the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund and actually doubled funding for the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund without slots.  Our plan would have kept the KEES scholarship program whole and not hurt charitable gaming.  It would not have used any General Fund dollars.
The House plan would have forked over more than 50% of the revenue to the tracks and massively undervalued the license fees the tracks would have had to pay.  All businesses are suffering in this economy, yet the tracks insist that they and they alone deserve special treatment.
When the House introduced its gambling bill during the 2008 session, committee members were mysteriously replaced in order to ensure passage.  The 2009 version was heard in a committee that didn’t even allow the opposition to testify.  Finally, with the addition of over $1 billion worth of projects the bill barely passed during the Special Session. It was a far cry from the fair hearing the bill received in the Senate committee where both sides were allowed to air their views.
The House plan relied on Kentuckians gambling a whopping $11.9 billion – a figure that represents five times more than what is currently wagered at the tracks, at out-of-state casinos, and through charitable gaming.  Where are these players going to come from?  With gambling already in many of our sister states, slots will only cannibalize our own people — our most vulnerable sacrificed for what a horse industry insider, Ray Paulick, calls a “band-aid” solution.
We need to explore all the ways Kentucky horsemen can control their own future because as Churchill Downs trainer Michael Lauer recently noted, “…once the tracks get the slots, the horsemen become secondary citizens.”  I respectfully would amend that quote to include all Kentuckians.

  • At least Williams, or whoever wrote this editorial, reads The Paulick Report!

  • Kathleen

    Williams mentions Churchill provides transport to Chicago…well why didn’t Keenland provide transport to Turfway!…the oddest part is…They do provide transport to Chuchill…lol…duh…these 2 are separately owned…but Keenland owns Turfway…and the distance is near about the same!…why not help u’r own track succeed?…the only reason is they want the little tracks to suffer…as we smaller trainers are there and rely on them!…We, the little trainer is being squeezed out and have been for a long time, and we know it!!
    We work hard, most of the time even working outside jobs to pay for our horses, and should be treated with just as much respect as the rich guy owning big stables!…we keep Turfway going in the winter!
    Give us our due!!….work with us…not against us…to keep this industry strong!

  • Chuck Dowdy

    “It was a far cry from the fair hearing the bill received in the Senate committee where both sides were allowed to air their views.” DW above.

    Where was the fair hearing in the Senate (2009 Special Session) for slots conderation that David Williams promised? It never got past his desk.

  • Sarah

    like Kathleen I agree, but must ad…I want slots. Slots in other states have taken from this state many times. Most everyone I know runs at Mountaineer for higher purses, and they train right here in Ky. I can only wonder what would happen if that was right here?? How much money would be saved/spent right here local if we had what they do. Keep in mind shipping to Mountaineer (a 6 hr trip) is NOT CHEAP. It costs on average $800 per trip. To think trainers/owners are willing to spend nearly a thousand dollars for the higher purses in West Virginia should say something, esp since many of the trainers going there are smaller trainers! The only ones saving are the ones with their own truck and trailors.
    It’s a NO BRAINER…Slots help…will it be perfect?…no…nothing is ever perfect.
    oh and one more thing about Williams…is he protecting his ppl because they are for him, or is he protecting Bingo and Lottery ppl (this tooooooo is gambling!!)…someone needs to check who’s his ‘527’ contributors…lol…
    remember, There was a lot of hipe against Lotteries before that was put in–and yes there’s been problems,,,but are they getting rid of them?…lol…no…corruption should be dealt with. with the ppl being currupt. Remember, in ohio, their Lottery system IS helping education. Just because the private company with Ky Lottery tried to hold back funding for schools, don’t mean racinos all do!…that’s what making strict legislation to prevent that will help!

  • Delight

    I currently send my horse’s out of state to train and run at Presque Isle where the purses are much better. I have boarders who now go to Indiana for there foaling because of the program. Please help support the Kentucky breeders who need the better purses to support the desire to stay in KY for racing and breeding farms. Elect new politicians who have a clue as to what is going on!!!

  • Ray Paulick

    Sen. Williams….I am flattered that you or one of your aides reads the Paulick Report, but you conveniently left out the word “necessary” in connection with my commentary stating that slots are a “necessary Band-Aid” to help the Kentucky Thoroughbred industry regain lost revenue and give it the resources to address problems related to product pricing, marketing, and facilities.

    And I thought the news media was the king of quoting out of context.

  • Tapit

    Well written Mr. Williams.

    Why not take our time and do it right and make it a model all horsemen and women want to emulate. The industry has been on the decline for a decade? I don’t believe there should be any rush unless we take our time and still give all the power to the casinos?

    We have waited this long lets take it slow and do it right!!!!!!

  • pat culhane

    One of the most successful tracks in North American is Woodbine inToronto which I travelled to last weekend for the Woodbine Mile.Woodbine has slots and take alook at their purse structure.For example today the tenth raceis a maiden allowance 1 mile on the turf for$75,900.The key to slots and racing is the agreement between Woodbine Entertainment and the horsemen.

  • john greathouse

    Senator Williams never ceases to amaze me. He single’s out Mr Farish for owning some shares in Churchill Downs but fails to mention the amounts of money Mr Farish and his Family have donated to the Republican Partyand what the Republican Party has meant to them.
    I doubt Mr Farish wants to have to fight this battle but in the end this is what it will come to. It will take people like Bill to get this job done.
    Senator Williams has cost his Party dearly and some of his brothers in arms (read local) have found Horse Money impossible to come by!
    Senator Williams would throw the baby out with the bath water!

  • MI trainer

    It seems this issue is becoming to political. MI let the casino into Detroit. Where does the money go? Look at who owns those Casinos. Great Lakes closed and guess what is now there. Yes, an Indian Casino with many many tax breaks, that do not benefit the community at all. Look back into the 40′ and 50’s. It was tough but everyone, even the little trainer had a place and a chance. Horseracing was truly a sport, regal, prestigious. Many of the really good trainers had wealthy clients and they still had to work to make ends meet. Remember, the bigger the purse the harder is it to win, the better the horse you need to own and on and on. I have been around many good old time horsemen. What would they be saying to you right now?

  • Nick Kling

    If you carefully read Mr. Williams’ comments, he raises bogeyman-type issues which have nothing to do with whether slot revenue will help the Commonwealth and its horsemen. In effect, he is throwing up red herrings.

    By describing what is wrong with slots where they have been less successful, Williams has created a blueprint of what to avoid to do it correctly. Pat Culhane’s comment above has it right. Follow the pattern of people who have done it successfully.

    You’ve gotta love politicians. They can spin a pig into Miss America. Williams almost made his spin sound attractive. Almost, but not quite.

  • steve

    Woodbine might be successful for Horse owners,but has been a complete Failure for Horseplayers.

  • Joe

    Either way, racing needs to fix its big problems and shrink in order to offer adequate safety, integrity and quality.

    No one is holding a gun to any struggling horseman’s head. Anyone is free to own or train horses or not. Owners and trainers are free to choose how many horses they can afford to treat right and when it is best to do something else. Waiting for slots $$ won’t do much to redress inner problems which has brought racing to its knees in the first place including with an indigestion of drugs and sad races.

  • Mad As Hell in Florida

    Senator Williams, you are so clearly uninformed, I am only wondering if this b.s. came straight out of the Don Ball playbook.

    I read there was testimony given in Frankfort about all the different states that have assisted the horse industry through slot machines at the tracks. That testimony included details of tax rates on slot machines by state, with recommendations on the best tax level where the horse industry can get enough out of it to help save the 10s of thousands of jobs in your state in the business of thoroughbred breeding. Maybe you slept through it or didn’t even bother to attend the hearing.

    Anyway, Florida passed a terrible bill with too high a tax, making it unprofitable for the racetracks (that’s why no one wants to buy Gulfstream Park) and with not enough money going to horsemen. Worse, your fellow Republican Gov. Charlie Crist already has given the Seminole Indians everything they could possibly want to beat the snot out of horse racing with huge casinos. Now Crist wants to guarantee the Indians a gambling monopoly that could put Tampa Bay out of business. And I thought Indian Charlie was that toothless goon who trolled around Kentucky tracks and at the Keeneland sales.

    Just admit it Senator Williams you don’t like the horse business very much. But what if you get a casino in your district and get all those folks from Atlanta to drive up? Would you change your song then?

  • Paula

    Actually, it appears that Sen. David Williams gets his “talking points” directly from his buddy Sen. Damon Thayer, as this is the same bunch of b.s. Thayer uses to make his argument against vlts.

    Two of a kind..Thayer has his eye on a leadership post and Williams will, no doubt, reward him for his loyalty.

  • Richard Coreno

    While Williams makes some valid points – especially about the scam deal in Ohio – a bill which brings every voice to the table and equitable splits in the pie will yield positive benefits to the industry. There is enough icing on this cake to satisfy the sweet-tooth of each organization. My concern, though, is the tone of the rebuttal….pounding away at negativity will yield nothing and continue the spiral downward, which has been exasperated by greed by too many people who should know better.

  • Priscilla Peabody

    Williams is not a friend to the horse industry, and he reveals that fact by describing horseracing as washed up anyway. He says fans are growing older, we breed too much, race too much, less people have the money to buy horses – so why try to save a dying industry?

    We can and must save our industry and we can start by getting rid of Williams, an enemy of racing in Kentucky.

  • Williams is not a friend to the horse industry, and he reveals that fact by describing horseracing as washed up anyway. He says fans are growing older, we breed too much, race too much, less people have the money to buy horses – so why try to save a dying industry?

    We can and must save our industry and we can start by getting rid of Williams, an enemy of racing in Kentucky.
    PS: Wanted to add great post!

  • Faith

    Mr . Farish’s letter should have detailed how Kentucky would be different from Ohio and Florida. He should have explained how funds generated would directly benefit our signature industry and not just the tracks and their business partner, the casinos.

    The rebuttal may have been a tad more difficult to write.

    I want slots because I want horse racing and I want all Kentuckians to win on this sorry chapter.

  • Picksburg Phil

    Delaware Park now has football parlay betting. Here is a quote from the Daily Times;

    “Delaware Park President Bill Fasy said thoroughbred racing on Sundays has been curtailed for the fall. “We have football this year,” he noted.

    How long will it be until we read, “the Kentucky Derby has been curtailed this year, we are having a slot tournament”?

    Be careful of the unintended consequences. It would be wise to use the energy and resources to fix racing instead of relying on false economics. Use Betfair as an example.

  • Smilin’ Sera

    Fact #3: And gambling revenues are in a decline nationwide sending governments addicted to them scurrying for additional funds.

    Eeehhhhh off course gambling revenues are down, the country is experiencing a recession!! As with every thing else when there’s money that revenue will pick up again. How do these people make it into the senate?!?!

  • Frankfort Furlong

    Let me see, where do I begin. I am almost tempted to say I don’t want to dignify this William’s diatribe with a comment but ….

    In fact, I am not sure why Mr. Williams came out of his bunker to deliver this drivel other than he is notoriously thin-skinned and egotistical. He attacks the messenger. He insults the customer. He mounts a full front attack on the Commonwealth’s most important industry. He seeks to divide and conquer. He displays enormous ignorance with regard to the dynamics of the industry. He tells us to eat cake. Par for the course.

    Mr. Williams has exposed himself for what he is. A minor league, tin eared, intoxicated with power, seeping with arrogance, school-yard bully.

    If Mr. Williams’ goal is to refuel the Farish-Casner led 527 after their successful TKO of him in the Webb-Ditty race, he has accomplished his objective. That train has left the station and Kentucky Republicans only recourse at this point is to turn over the reins of the Senate in 2010 or depose, dump or disenfranchise Williams before he takes them, their Senate Majority and their 2010 U.S. Senate candidate over the cliff. They may want to throw in a little garlic, a crucifix and some sunshine in the process.

  • tired out

    The trick seems to be getting rid of anything that reeks of ‘progressiveism’. There is a lot of undercurrent there to get rid of any gaming related to any type of animal. Kentucky is the home of many breeds of horses, and they are its lifeblood. Coal is also on their list. Beware!

  • Garrett Redmond

    Amazing how some are practically foaming at the mouth because they cannot rebut much, if any, of Williams’s argument.

    “He seeks to divide and conquer”. There is a knee-slapper. Read the foregoing comments. We were divided before Williams spoke. What is to conquer? We have met the enemy and it is US. The business has slouched it’s way downhill under our ruling class.

    Williams has brought up some truths that hurt the gang waiting to benefit from slots. The Farishes have conflicts of interest; their stockholdings in CDI is only one of them. Who cares what they have given the Republican Party. What have they GIVEN the breeding/racing business?

    If the objective is to help our “signature” industry it could be reached without turning it into a battle between Republicans and Democrats. If ever there was a bipartisan issue, surely this is it.

    Put aside the slots thing. Within our business we are split on that question. What about other changes which would benefit us and need legislation to bring about? There may not be any. In that case, where are the rulers (can’t call them ‘Leaders’) who are ready to get together , forget their fiefdoms, and get the job done?

    No need to step aside – you will not be knocked over in the rush.

  • Frankfort Furlong

    It is, indeed, amazing Mr. Redmond that you Sir (and I say this with fondness and respect) — for all your pomp, circumstance and loquaciousness — rarely see the forest through the trees.

    Succinctly put, Williams’ thesis is: “Williams to Horse Industry: Drop Dead.”

    There is nothing other of substance in his message above, and, ergo, nothing to rebut.

    Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown….

  • Lynn Jones

    I wonder if Mr. Willaims has attended any of the current Keeneland sale or spoken with any of the multitude of Kentucky residents who are now wondering how to make it through next week? If any person responsible for the welfare of Kentucky could turn a blind-eye to this situation, they need to move VERY far north.

  • Jeremy Jet

    “I wonder if Mr. Willaims has attended any of the current Keeneland sale or spoken with any of the multitude of Kentucky residents who are now wondering how to make it through next week? If any person responsible for the welfare of Kentucky could turn a blind-eye to this situation, they need to move VERY far north.”

    So, let me see if I have this straight. The market for yearlings is crashing in the wake of an epic bursting bubble, and politicians should help to subsidize breeders? I suppose you would also argue that the Federal government should also subsidize the tens of millions of homeowners whose assets have declined sharply in value.

    How absurd.

    Racing needs to focus on its own structural problems, and develop a sustainable business model. Short-term subsidies will hurt, rather than help the industry in the long run.

  • Carrie

    all I can say after this september sale is … UNCLE!

  • Al

    Horse racing needs more than slots subsidies to survive. Look at PA where quite recently legislators asked the horse industry the simple question, “Whatt have you done with the money to improve your induistry?” Not one faction of the Equine Coaltion could provide any comfort to those at the state level controlling the subisdy teet. Wake up horse racing, change, add new blood to your executive ranks, and stop protecting the way things have always been done. Mr. Will Farish, Sr. can see and sense the issues, so please let him come forward and make good sense of the debate.

  • john greathouse

    you don’t think they have more mares foaling in Pa now? More stallions standing there? A larger tax base because of it? And the Green Factor where everyone likes Horse Farms and wants to see them…just don’t want to pay anyone for the privilege of looking at them!
    please remove you head from your [email protected]@…without a Constitutional Amendment in Pa or here in Ky…they will all face the greed of the tax collector and go for a short term fix…slots are the answer for us now but we also need to address the other problem

  • Picksburg: well said.

  • Jeremy: well said.

  • John Greathouse: according to the manager of the leading farm in PA, they are not getting an influx of mares. Lots of stallions want to come to PA, but according to this guy, they don’t have any appreciable upswing in the number of mares.

  • Sen. Williams claims that his main reason for being against slots is because they are potentially disastrous for the poorest people in the Commonwealth. Many of these folks live in his district.

    Studies have clearly shown that introduction of slots can have a very negative impact against the poor, so Williams is not making this up.

    Are horse people willing to push for slots, knowing full well that the poorest people in the state will be carrying the Thoroughbred industry on their backs?

    Where is the humanity here?

  • Ted Kuster

    After a long day at Keeneland I had to wait in line to pay for my gas so the citizens could by a power ball ticket;; slots are only going to be at the tracks with a lofty investment for them to install the process. Many a local folk playing bingo down the street, so the band can have uniforms. Discouraged at the sales the past two weeks because not enough buyers for our horses. Kentucky gets beat by Florida. WE have a horse running at Turfway Sunday,(the better the day the better the deed), The purses in Kentucky are pitiful, but I am a home folk and race here,, everyone else has slots, lets put a band aid on the wound of an unfair hit of other states so Kentucky can remain the number one state in the horse industry. Back to the Keeneland sales I remember a lot of hard working people on the grounds selling and buying horses,grooms, “showers”, catering folks, vanning folks, grounds keepers ,feed man, blacksmith, vets, parking attendants,Keeneland staff, companies that make the stall cards, trade magazines, the tack store, and a movie production company, all have jobs because of the horse industry, no one is telling you to bet or play slots, bingo or get out of bed in the morning, life is a gamble. Slots will help us compete with the people who want to go to our neighboring state and spend their money, do it in Kentucky. The tracks can not survive with out horses and we need the tracks for our horses to compete on with a decent purse structure. Kentucky is known for our horse industry, visitors come to admire our farms and famous horses, not to admire our politics. . In the dome of the Bourbon County Court House, In Paris, is a mural, picturing, the growing of tobacco , the harvesting of,corn and wheat for use in many ways, hemp for rope I presume, beautiful sheep, cattle and horses, and a beautiful woman looking over the wonderful scene. I sure hope the wonderful ladies of Kentucky do not abandon our Commonwealth.,..

  • patricia

    Senator’s Kyle and McCain, killed the slots in AZ by the same political garbage. The Indians ended up getting all the gaming rights and tax breaks that exceeded reasonable time frames. It is not that the Indians shouldn’t have gaming rights, but they shouldn’t be given sole gaming rights. This kind of politics as usual never takes in to account the whole picture. The AZ Thoroughbred and Quarter horse racing has suffered tremendously since this vote gave all the rights to the Indian Casinos. Kentucky, needs to wake up and stop playing politics with the lively hood of many. Times have changed and unfortunately the Casinos have made the racing industry change. The horse industry is a 100 Billion plus annually business, from the hay growers to the horse owners. Let’s keep it alive, we all can step it up, and that means you too Sen. Williams. Make a wise choice not a political one, there are many who will suffer with the wrong choice.

  • Mainstream Kentucky

    The last bill was all about enriching the already wealthy track owners. That is where the overwhelming majority of the money would have gone…not to the state and certainly not to the horsemen.

    When a rinky-dink, middle-of-nowhere track like Kentucky Downs wants to run 90 days of slots for every 1 day of racing, no one can claim the bill was about horse racing.

  • bernborough

    barry irwin: regarding slots hitting ethe poorest. this crock was reeled out in md also. travel to md and see the state lottery available on just about every street corner and in every shopping mall. you talk about a tax on the poor? slots will never challenge state lotteries for that title.

    and your argument that slots should not be allowed because horsemen might, one day down the road if the legislation is not written correctly, lose some of the windfall, well that just takes one’s breath away. it is akin to saying that we should not accept social security because one day they might reduce the inflation adjustment!

    what williams – and you mr irwin – seem unable to akcnowledge is that slots have saved racing and helped horsemen in several states (if you were are in charles town prior to 1996 you might know what you are talking about) and that they are needed now to tide racing over a period of decline and disarray.

    of course, you and mr williams are right in one respect: the racing industry has huge structural problems stemming from its own stupidity (drugs, taxes, take-out, no general tv distribution etc etc etc). until we come to our collective senses and solve those problems by 1. accepting a strong centralized league office 2. ban race-day medication 3. lower take out 4. achieve cable coverage etc etc, slots are needed to prop up an industry reeling toward extinction.

    finding leaders with the wisdom and the balls to do something about these fundamental problems has proven elusive thus far. but shying away from an infusion of cash on spurious reasoning merely compunds the stupidity.

  • Katy Voss

    The following statistics are from the Jockey Club and would seem to indicate that Pennsylvania has seen a substantial increase in mares:
    Among the 11 states and provinces in which stallions
    covered at least 1,000 mares in 2008, only Pennsylvania
    produced more state/province-sired live foals in 2009 than
    in 2008 as reported at this time last year. The 11 states and
    provinces, ranked by number of state/province-sired live foals
    of 2009 reported through Sept. 9, are:
    Stallion Location/2008 Mares Bred/2008 Live
    Foals/2009 Live Foals/Pct. Change
    New York/1,908/1,098/1,080/-1.6
    New Mexico/1,666/911/783/-14.1

  • john g sikura

    The reality of the Ky. breeding and racing industry was seen this past two weeks at the keeneland sept sale. You will see a mass exodus of mares and stallions this year to states which offer enhanced slots purses and significant breeders awards. Hill’n’ dale will unfortunatley be moving several well bred young stallions that have a ‘big chance’ to such states and provinces.The same stallions that bred 100 plus mares are now breeding less than 40 mares and mare owners in such states are not coming to Ky. The $5.000.00 sire is no longer viable in Ky and will stand elsewhere.Our political reality is that we must replace our foes and support our advocates. There is not the will or courage of Mr. Williams or Thayer, to change their minds. The time is over where you can speak as a friend of the industry and do nothing. Watch the for sale signs on farms and bank foreclosures in upcoming weeks. Its real Senator Wiliams, I promise its real.jgs

  • Bernborough, if our industry cannot get its act together right now in the midst of a crisis that now exists, what makes anybody believe that they will do it if they get a breather from slots?

    I humbly suggest to you that it is the impetus of the current pressure that will have a better chance of forcing the hand of the stakes holders in racing to come together for the good of the industry, rather than a so-called temporary band aid.

    Americans are procrastinators. That is why the bulk of income tax returns are filed on April 15.

    We need that April 15 mentality to register right now so that we can clean up the dumb things that are dragging this game down.

    Putting a band aid on it might retard rather than help progress.

    It may interest you to know that the architect for the dismantling of racing by putting casinos at racetrack was a former racing partner of mine. And the end game would be not making racing a side show, but rather a thing of the past.

    Enough racetracks have shown that they are more interested in their shareholders than horses or horsemen or breeders.

    The non-profits are the best hope for the game.

    But anybody that thinks that slots and casinos are the savior of the game is naive.

  • Faith

    Will the Paulick Report please detail the bill (band-aid) industry leaders are so eager to pass?

    That would make for interesting comments.

    Thank you.

  • steve

    The Junkie/Horseracing needs a fix/slots.

  • FourCats

    I am not a believer that slots will save horse racing. Like Mr. Paulick, I think that they can be a band-aid but that the industry must address its many problems (One of the biggest ones being that the industry has forgotten how to show the public how magnificent these horses are. If it can do that, the fans will return.)

    However, Mr. Williams’ facts are just misdirection. Review his “Facts”

    Fact 1: Flood Kentucky with funds to “skew our body politic”? Not even sure what he is trying to say here. Vague, unsubstantiated attacks on Bill Farish as somehow politically corrupt? Or that slots lead to political corruption? Other than rumor, what evidence does Mr. Williams provide about such things? And if there is political corruption, that falls directly on the politicians themselves; if they weren’t corrupt in the first place, nothing that others would do would make them so. The mention of negative ads really implies that Mr. Williams is more concerned about getting reelected than in doing the job that he was elected to do (ie. work for his constituents which include many in the horse industry).

    Fact 2: Horse owners and trainers will get the short end of the stick if slots come? Maybe true but this would be due to politicians deciding that the horse industry is somehow not worthy enough and that the slots money should be directed elsewhere (think recent statements and actions by Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland). One thing I have never understood; why do the state governments think that they are “entitled” to slots revenue? What do they bring to the table? Anything at all? If the horse industry is not worthy of the money, maybe that money should go back to the slot machine players (not to state governments).

    Fact 3: Saving “Kentucky’s” budget. How is that relevant to anything? Fiscal integrity, responsibility, restraint and accountability by the politicians are the only things that will save “Kentucky’s” budget (or anyone elses). However, the evidence is overwhelming that politicians do none of those things and simply pass out taxpayer funds in an attempt to get votes in the next election.

    Fact 4: Horse industry has problems? Of course. What industry doesn’t. But perhaps one of the biggest problems is that state governments control horse racing like no other industry. They impose rules that no other industry could survive under. They take taxes off each wager; other industries pay tax only if they make a profit. They have commissions to tell the industry when, where and how they can operate; what other industries are told how to run their business? And for all these taxes and rules, what do they give the horse industry in return? Absolutely nothing. Horse racing is just a cash cow for them, and the people who work in that industry are of no account.

  • Garrett Redmond

    As a rule I don’t respond to anonymous writers, but in the case of “Frankfort Furlong” I make an exception.

    My visual acuity is, at it’s worst, as good as yours. Because many do not share your myopia does not mean we are optically impaired or blind. We can foresee the consequences slot machines can bring to racing and it’s many dependencies. Consequences always trump good intentions.

    If your words are with “fondness and respect”, I am happy not to be on your S-list. Pomp and circumstance? Can’t see how either is applicable, unless by “pomp”, you mean a display of brilliance. In that case, Sir, you pay me too great a compliment.

    “Loquaciousness” ? Surely you meant “erudition”. Then I humbly accept your compliment. Nevertheless, it would have so much more value if not hidden behind a pen-name..

  • Rick Barton

    I have always wondered what would happen if the entire country could bet on any horse race at any time. How would that effect handle? It couldn’t hurt. At present only about 15 states allow their citizens to open TVG, Bet Express et al type accounts. I live 20 miles north of Charlotte, NC, so if my friends and I want to “go to the races” we must drive 90 miles each way to Martinsville, VA to do so.

    As far as disrtibution of racing goes, It would be so ez to set up a system where a place like the Merrick Inn in Lexington or Joes Sports Bar in Owensboro could have machines that would allow folks to bet on races at any time. Think of two betting machines at Murry’s in Lexington on an October Friday at 7 p.m. Keeneland is done, the TCA has closed, but Oak Tree is getting ready for their last 3 races. Now multiply that across the South to Atlanta, Charlotte, Columbia etc. There would not be any more worries about the continuing decline in handle. Best regards to all rb

  • Bob Caito

    Williams is right about one thing–and one thing only–that the horse industries weak marketing has done little to help it’s own cause. On every other issue Williams is way off base. Also, he fails to mention his support of casinos in neighboring states where he has been seen, while opposing a gambling expansion for Kentucky. The horse industry needs to strongly support Williams opponent in the next election to ensure his defeat, along with the other legislators who made themselves enemies of the state’s signature industry.

  • ron taylor

    slots are only a temporary fix to a permanent problem. racing is not doing anything to build a new fan base or run the drug violators out of the business. the “big names” in the business such as pletcher,asSmussen,and several others keep getting positive tests and the powers that be tell them “don’t do it again” but it keeps going on. then,we have the groups who want to ciean up drugs in racing led by “big” guys in racing a.k.a. jess jackson and who does he hire to train the two most famous horses of the last couple of years? i will give you a hint. s.a. now,does something here have a little smell of a conflict of interest? racing is a great game but people should remember there is only so much money to go around.

  • Dana Ross

    Thank you, Katy Voss. I find the 30% increase in PA foals a very interesting stat. Perhaps the stallion manager who is not seeing any part of this increase (see #33) should see what his competitors are doing that he’s not. Still, no one yet has ripped apart the Republican response to the horseracing bill in the special session, and Williams is still claiming it would increase funds to horsemen- baloney. It was predicated on an increase in takeout, and there is never a good time to raise takeout (now especially). Otherwise, great debate on both sides and hope the next piece of legislation addresses the track/horseman split a little differently than the last.

  • Frankfort Furlong

    Mr. Redmond:

    I prefer nom de guerre (given the circumstances) or pseudonym as opposed to being characterized as an anonymous writer but I am flattered you made an exception to your no-response policy.

    Yes, pomp was intended to conjure up a display of brilliance. And you are correct — “erudition” — would have been a much better choice than “loquaciousness.” I stand corrected.

    Until next time.

  • Frankfort Furlong

    This just in….. The facts speak for themselves Kentucky is missing this wave at least until 2011 when Mr. Williams and his disciples (Mr. Thayer included) have been banished from the helm.

    Racino gains climb nationwide; other gaming forms decline

    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    The Saratogian

    SARATOGA SPRINGS — Racino revenues continue to climb nationwide while other types of gambling — lottery, traditional casinos, racing — declined during the past year, a study says.

    Of the four major types of gaming activity, only racinos, such as Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, saw increases from 2008 to 2009, while overall revenues fell 2.8 percent, the first decline in 30 years.

    The report, by the Albany-based Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, says states should exercise caution before relying more heavily on gambling to balance their budgets. The study is titled, “For the First Time, a Smaller Jackpot: Trends in State Revenues From Gambling.”

    “(This) may hold important lessons for states as policymakers consider further expansion of casinos, racinos and other gambling activities,” authors Robert B. Ward and Lucy Dadayan wrote. “Expenditures on education and other programs will generally grow more rapidly than gambling revenue over time. Thus, new gambling operations that are intended to pay for normal increases in general state spending may add to, rather than ease, long-term budget imbalances.”

    Ward and Dadayan are the institute’s deputy director and senior policy analyst, respectively.

    For the fiscal year ending March 31, seven of New York’s eight racinos realized wagering increases, including Saratoga, where net win — money left over after prizes — rose $3 million, from $132 million to

    $135 million. However, revenues were down $600,000 during July and August at the local racino.

    “A lot of it is the economy,” spokesperson Rita Cox said. “We are not any different than a lot of entertainment outlets in the Capital District. People are being very careful about how they spend their money.”

    Saratoga was the state’s first racino to open, in January 2004. Monticello is the only one that saw declines last year.

    Statewide, bettors wagered $12 billion on VLTs last year. Yonkers Raceway has the state’s largest racino with 5,000 video lottery terminals that handle $6 billion in wagering annually. Aqueduct Race Track is also slated to get a racino with 4,500 machines, and some analysts say it could generate up to $10 billion in wagering per year because of its larger population base, from Brooklyn to Long Island.

    More than 25 states considered such proposals to generate revenue with casinos, VLTs and other gambling operations during the past year. Most individual states reported declines in gambling revenues over the last two years. States that reported increases, including Pennsylvania and North Carolina, have recently authorized the opening of new gambling operations.

    The largest source of gaming revenue — lottery income — fell 2.6 percent nationwide during the past year. Casino revenues declined 8.5 percent, while racinos increased 6.7 percent, largely because of new racinos opening in Indiana and Pennsylvania, the report said.

    Pari-mutuel wagering, which generally takes place at horse racing, harness and dog tracks, makes up a small percentage of revenues from gambling, even though it’s the longest established form of legalized gambling in many states. Preliminary figures indicate those revenues fell off by 14.8 percent.

    Saratoga Race Course numbers were down this year, but only slightly compared to the national average. On-track handle fell 2.2 percent, and all-sources handle declined 1.7 percent from 2008 totals.

    The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York, conducts fiscal and programmatic research on American state and local governments. The full report may be viewed the institute’s Web site:


  • Alan Kirschenbaum

    The issue of slots at tracks is the tip of the ice burg folks. There is a bigger picture to consider — economic development in Kentucky — and the sooner David Williams’ reign in Frankfort is over, the sooner Kentucky will grow with the times. He is an old fashioned “Good Ol’ Boy” (and proud of it) in the model of the Commonwealth’s leaders who chose to leave the Union after the Civil war was over (truly brilliant!) and similarly to be the last NCAA basketball program to integrate (excuse me for breaking a Commandment — Thou shalt not take the name Rupp in vain). For such pieces of history Kentucky still pays a price. Once Williams and his likes are no longer supported, then perhaps you can get slots at tracks, decrease a serious “Brain Drain” of homegrown talent that leaves (and I’m not talking about people who can throw a ball or sink it in a hoop) and us “people up there” in Louisville (as Williams calls us) can get the East End Ohio River Bridge built so the main economic engine for the Commonwealth can soundly grow and generate more tax money for Burkesville.

  • D. Masters

    Mr. Kirschenbaum:

    Ain’t it the truth?!?!…to borrow an antiquated, rural turn of plantation mentality phrase.

  • ChDK2Y I want to say – thank you for this!

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