Tag Archives: horse racing industry

QUESTION 1 WOULD AUTHORIZE NEW SLOT MACHINE LICENSE

20160830_151932-1
Vote! For our next president … and for humane living conditions for farm animals (Question 3). There are 4 ballot questions in all – today Maher takes a closer look at Question 1. pic: R.T.

By Steven R. Maher

With all the hullabaloo about the Presidential election, and the clamor about charter schools (Question 2), humane conditions for farm animals (Question 3), and marijuana legalization (Question 4) little attention has been paid to Question 1, which would allow the Stating Gaming Commission to license one additional slot machine parlor.

That’s unfortunate, because there’s apparently a story behind the ballot question:

The opponents of the proposal stated on their website: “Question 1 is a flagrant abuse of the ballot question process. It was filed by one developer, for one site, for one purpose: his own financial benefit. The drafters of the Massachusetts Constitution designed our ballot question process to give the people a voice on statewide issues, not as an end-run around the legislative process for wealthy developers and corporate interests.”

Written to narrow down

A closer look at the proposed referendum seems to indicate that it was drafted to narrow down the location of the slot machines parlor to one site:

• The location has to be “at least four acres in size”;

• It has to be “adjacent to and within 1,500 feet of a race track, including the track’s additional facilities, such as the track, grounds, paddocks, barns, auditorium, Amphitheatre, and bleachers”

• It has to be “where a horse racing meeting may physically be held”;

• The site has to be “where a horse racing meeting shall have been hosted”; and

• The site cannot be “separated from the race track by a highway or railway.”

All these references to horse racing suggests that the beneficiaries of the ballot question would be the owners of the Suffolk Downs racetrack.

Opponents of Question 1 deny this. “Suffolk Downs itself would have no ownership interest in the proposed casino, and would receive no direct benefit from it. While a percentage of any Massachusetts casino’s profits are legally required to go toward the statewide Horse Racing Fund, this fund alone may not be enough to save New England horse racing,” says the Vote No website.

“The question of a casino near Suffolk Downs has already been asked and answered three times, and there is no reason to revisit it now,” continues the website statement. “The first proposal was withdrawn due to serious questions raised by allegations of criminal ties and inappropriate conduct on the part of Caesars Entertainment. The second was voted down by East Boston residents, and the third was denied by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission even after the Commission changed its own rules to give Suffolk Downs a second chance.”

Pros and cons

According to the website of “The Horse Racing Jobs and Education Committee” the slots parlor will have the following benefits to the Commonwealth (www.Massachusettsquestion1.net)

• “Over $80 Million Dollars in new Revenue to the State per year”;

• “$12 Million Dollars to support Horse Racing in Massachusetts”;

• “1000’s of new jobs both Direct and Indirect for Massachusetts citizens”;

• “$5 million dollars in guaranteed new revenue to the Host City.”

The website of the “Committee for Responsible and Sustainable Economic Development”, MaCasinos.net urges a NO vote for the following reasons

•”Legalized casino gambling in the Commonwealth is too new and unproven to expand at this time”;

• “Only one slot parlor has opened in Massachusetts, and it is significantly underperforming”;

• “Five casinos are expected to open in Massachusetts by 2019. The Wall Street Journal warns that New England already has more casinos than the market wants or needs”;

• “Proponents of the ‘Act Relative to Gaming’ have traveled across the globe to exploit the Commonwealth and send a message to other casino developers – they can come to Massachusetts and do the same”;

• Urges a no vote “to postpone the question of gambling expansion until a review of the costs and benefits of existing Massachusetts gaming establishments is completed.”
Economic benefits

What are the economic benefits of passing Question 1?

Both sides dispute that state taxpayers, on the whole, will benefit or not benefit from passing the question.

In a “Statement of Fiscal Consequences” mailed out to state voters, the Secretary of State’s office stated: “The fiscal consequences of this proposed measure for state and municipal government finances could range from 0 dollars to an unknown positive amount.

“Under the Expanded Gaming Act, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has the discretion to determine whether a gaming license should be issued and when that determination would be made.

“If the Gaming Commission did award the proposed license, a new analysis of the casino market would be needed to determine the amount of revenue from this license, based on proposed size and operations, and the potential impact of competition from other gaming establishments in Massachusetts and surrounding areas.”

Horse deaths at race tracks should be as rare as Triple Crown Winners

By Kathy Guillermo

Seeing the video of the fourth race on Belmont Stakes day, when a horse named Helwan broke his leg and was euthanized, reminded me of the very first time I saw a horse break down during a race. It was many years ago, and I thought it would be the only time. I thought that a death on the track was as rare as a Triple Crown winner.

What seemed to me then to be shocking and unusual is actually so routine today that numbers are reported in a detached way, as though they were simply statistics from less deadly sports—more than three horses a day die on tracks, which is 24 a week and 1,000 a year. These stats don’t convey the horror of the loud crack of a bone and the horse crashing to the ground while running at top speed.

But what’s even more astounding is that the racing industry could stop many of these deaths right now if it wanted to. Some good people in racing, some members of Congress, outside experts and PETA have been saying it for years: Get rid of the medication. Stop drugging horses to keep them running when they should be resting. Eliminate the use of the debilitating diuretic Lasix on race day.

The drugs are leading to the breakdowns, and all medications should be prohibited in the week before a race. If a horse actually requires medication, that horse should not be racing.

Instead, not a day passes without the death of a Thoroughbred or Standardbred or Quarter Horse somewhere on a U.S. track. On June 14, Danzig Moon, who finished fifth in this year’s Kentucky Derby and ran in the Preakness, broke a hind leg and was euthanized at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. On June 15, when only six Thoroughbred tracks in the U.S. were open, four horses broke down.

Drug use is pervasive even at the top levels. Veterinary records released by New York State reveal that all eight horses who ran in the Belmont Stakes were given the powerful painkiller and anti-inflammatory medication phenylbutazone on June 4, just two days before the race. Is it coincidental that every horse was suffering from “inflammation”?

The French horse Helwan, who died on the day that American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, had a winning career in Europe and had never raced on Lasix. But racing for the first time in the U.S., where nearly every horse is given this drug, Helwan was given Lasix, which can cause dehydration and the loss of a hundred pounds in a single day.

It is inexplicable that racing without drugs should panic so many trainers and owners. It is inexcusable that the racing industry doesn’t stop its ceaseless bickering and clean up this mess immediately. Some members of Congress agree. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania have introduced a bill that would repeal the Interstate Horseracing Act, which allows betting across state lines, by phone and on the Internet. Ninety percent of the $11 billion wagered annually on horses comes from this form of betting, and without it, the racing industry would collapse.

Pitts, along with Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, has also reintroduced legislation to end drugging in racing and ban violators. Both these bills would improve the chances for horses’ survival, and clearly, federal oversight is essential. The racing industry won’t do this itself. That much is clear.