08/26/2014 12:32PM

Belterra cuts purses by 20 percent

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Belterra Park, the racetrack-casino that replaced River Downs in Cincinnati, will cut purses by 20 percent beginning Saturday due to lower-than-expected revenue from slot machines at the track, horsemen’s officials said Tuesday.

The purse cuts will go into effect beginning with the track’s next-to-last condition book, approximately two-thirds of the way through the track’s meet. Belterra Park had been distributing approximately $80,000 a day in purses, a number that will be pared to approximately $64,000 daily for the remainder of the meet, through mid-October.

Dave Basler, the executive director of the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said Tuesday that purses for the earlier condition books were based on higher estimates for revenue from slot machines in the track’s casino, the second to open in Cincinnati. The Ohio HBPA does not currently have an agreement with the track’s owner, Pinnacle Entertainment, on a cut of the revenue, but state law mandates that 9 percent of the slots revenue be placed in escrow for purses until an agreement is reached.

The racing commission has set a deadline for Nov. 1 for the two sides to reach an agreement. The Ohio HBPA has reached agreements with the two other Thoroughbred tracks in the state for a 10.5 percent cut of slots revenue.

Net revenue in July from Belterra’s 1,436 slot machines was $4.22 million, according to records from the Ohio Lottery, the administrator of the machines, for average net revenue per day of $94.80 per machine, a figure that is well at the low end for casinos nationwide.