05/03/2011 2:10PM

Indiana racetracks will get 5 percent less from casinos


Indiana lawmakers have passed a two-year budget that will reduce the amount of casino subsidies going to the Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing industries by approximately $3 million, or 5 percent lower than the amount distributed in 2010.

The cuts were a victory, of sorts, for the racing industries, which were facing much larger cuts in earlier versions of the budget. Lawmakers had initially proposed a more than 50 percent reduction in the subsidies from casino revenue for both the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries.

In 2010, the two industries received approximately $60 million in subsidies that were directed from casino revenues to both purses and breeder awards. The Thoroughbred industry’s share of that amount was approximately $28 million, a total that will be reduced by approximately $1.4 million in the new budget.

Riverboat casinos in Indiana began operating in the late 1990s, and casinos were legalized at the state’s two racetracks, Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs, in 2007. The parent companies of both tracks have filed for bankruptcy, citing difficulties in paying off debts accumulated to pay an initial $250 million casino licensing fee and to fund the construction of their casinos.

Since the racetrack casinos began operating, the number of mares bred in the state has jumped from 583 in 2007 to 1,137 in 2010, according to Jockey Club statistics, while the number of stallions in the state increased from 80 in 2007 to 114 in 2010.