HISA Appeal to be Argued Aug. 30; Judge Denies Contempt Motion

By T. D. Thornton

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will now hear oral arguments Aug. 30–slightly earlier than expected–in the injunction appeal brought by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act Authority (HISA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Both entities are defendants in an underlying lawsuit that alleges unconstitutionality and federal rulemaking procedure violations regarding HISA’s initial framework of regulations that went into effect July 1.

The Appeals Court docket previously indicated a September oral argument date was being planned.

 

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Injunction Halts HISA Rules in Louisiana and West Virginia

By T. D. Thornton

The plaintiff states of Louisiana and West Virginia won a preliminary injunction in federal court Tuesday that will keep the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) Authority’s rules from being implemented in those two states until a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of HISA gets decided in full.

“This court believes the threatened harm to Plaintiffs outweighs any harm that may result to the Defendants and that a preliminary injunction will not undermine the public interest,” wrote Judge Terry Doughty of U.S. District Court (Western District of Louisiana).

“This Court is only ruling on the adoption of the rules by HISA, not the constitutionality of the Act,” Doughty was quick to add.

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Lifetime Bans Upheld for Buzzer-Toting Patin Brothers

By T. D. Thornton

The Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) affirmed lifetime bans for two sibling jockeys from the Patin family on Tuesday related to the brothers’ criminal convictions for possessing illegal horse-shocking devices in races at Evangeline Downs in 2015.

The hearings concluded in bizarre fashion when Joseph Patin Jr., 58, apparently slipped out of the meeting room without telling anyone after first hearing that his younger brother, Billy Patin, 53, wasn’t going to be allowed to work as an exercise rider despite Billy previously agreeing to a lifetime ban of his license as a jockey.

LSRC commissioner Eddie Delahoussaye, a retired Hall of Fame jockey, addressed Billy Patin directly prior to the vote on his request. But he then launched into an admonition aimed at all jockeys who cheat and harm the reputation of the sport.

 

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HBPA Panel on Fixed Odds: Future of Wagering

Fixed Odds Panel | Jennie Rees – National HBPA

By Jennie Rees

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.–Dave Basler sees betting on table tennis in Asia and envisions it being replaced with horse racing in America’s burgeoning sports books.

“We can fill that void a lot of times during the day so that they don’t have to play table tennis from China or cricket from Australia–things that people have no idea about,” Basler, the executive director of the Ohio HBPA, said Thursday during a morning session of the National HBPA Conference at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. “That’s not just attractive to sports books, that’s attractive to horsemen and racetracks for the opportunity to increase our revenue.”

Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, at the 2018 conference cautioned horsemen that sports wagering was coming and the racing industry needed to be prepared. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court struct down the ban on sports wagering. Thirty states now have passed such legislation, including Arkansas.

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Fix to Delta’s Light Woes Might Not Arrive by End of Meet

By T. D. Thornton

A new lighting system at Delta Downs that was only operational for three races on the first night of the season back in October and has been repeatedly tweaked since then might not end up being deemed safe or usable for racing by the time the current Thoroughbred meet ends Mar. 5.

Ironically, after more than three months of debate over alleged shadows and perceived inconsistencies with how the patterns fall on the racing surface, the lighting installer and a consulting firm retained by Delta are now trying to rectify the problem not by increasing candlepower, but by actually turning down the intensity of the lighting from about 90% of full illumination to around 60% on each of the poles around the six-furlong track.

 

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Fair Grounds Not Definite on Dates Reduction

By T. D. Thornton

Jason Boulet, the Fair Grounds director of racing, was repeatedly pressed by Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) member Tom Calvert Tuesday about whether or not his track would once again seek a statutory change to reduce its required number of race dates from 80 to 75 when the state legislature convenes its 2022 session Mar. 14.

The exchange did not yield a definitive answer beyond Boulet’s disclosure that the Fair Grounds and its corporate parent, the gaming firm Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI), would be in favor of participating in discussions among stakeholders that might reduce race dates in Louisiana with the goal of making it easier to fill entries at the state’s four Thoroughbred tracks.

The dates statute wasn’t on the agenda for the Jan. 18 LSRC meeting. But Calvert brought it up after Boulet reported that so far through the November-through-March meet, the number of starters per Fair Grounds race has dipped from 8.3 to 7.6 in a year-over-year comparison, a decrease Boulet termed “alarming.”

 

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Wagering On U.S. Racing Highest Since 2009

By Bill Finley

According to figures released Wednesday by Equibase, $12,218,407,637 was wagered on horse racing in the U.S. in 2021. The figure marks the first time betting has topped $12 billion since 2009 when $12.315 billion was bet.

“Against an extraordinarily difficult backdrop, the resiliency of Thoroughbred racing was on full display in 2021, as we concluded the year with significant growth in purses and total handle of more than $12 billion, the highest since 2009,” NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Rooney said in a statement. “We thank our customers for their ongoing support, as their wagering dollars continue to fuel our industry. As we turn the page to 2022, we look forward to the beginning of a new era for U.S. Thoroughbred racing with the launch of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and an even greater focus on equine safety and welfare and the integrity of America’s oldest sport.”

Wagering peaked in 2003 when $15.18 billion was bet.

Wagering was up 11.86% over 2020, when $10,922,936,290 was bet during a year in which the pandemic kept several tracks closed for parts of the year. A better comparison may be 2019, when $11,033,824,363 was wagered. The 2021-versus-2019 numbers show a 10.74% increase.

Are you Maximizing Your Tax Deductions and Minimizing Your Taxes?

By Len Green

By Len Green, CPA and John Wollenberg, CPA

In horse racing, the contest is not over until the horse crosses the finish line. The same is true with maximizing your tax deductions and minimizing your taxes. For those who think it is too late to save on your 2021 taxes, we are here to tell you, it is not!

With over 40 years’ experience saving our clients taxes along with our knowledge of the new tax laws, we are confident the following information will help you as you approach the 2021 home stretch and allow you to hit the wire a winner.

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Dispute Over Safety of New Lights Keeps Delta Dark at Night

By T. D. Thornton

Strenuous safety-related objections from Delta Downs jockeys about the allegedly inconsistent lighting from a new system that has been installed and tweaked over the course of several months kept the Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) from approving a return to night racing when regulators met for an emergency session to address that one item Monday morning.

Mindy Coleman, an attorney representing The Jockeys’ Guild, told commissioners on the Dec. 13 Zoom call that while the Delta-based riders recognize and appreciate the efforts track management has made to try to improve the situation, “there are still some grave concerns” with the recently installed light-emitting diode (LED) system, which was necessitated by the old lights getting wrecked by a hurricane in August 2020.

 

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