09/04/2014 3:33PM

Thoroughbreds will get 75 percent of Mass. gaming subsidies


BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Gaming Commission endorsed the recommendation of its Horse Racing Committee to divide monies in the Race Horse Development Fund at a rate of 75 percent to the Thoroughbred industry and 25 percent to the Standardbred horsemen and breeders at a public hearing on Sept. 4.

Of each allotment, 80 percent will be dedicated to purse accounts, with 16 percent to the breeders and 4 percent to backstretch welfare.

The Race Horse Development Fund was established to protect the state’s horse racing interests in 2011 legislation that authorized the development of up to three destination resort casinos and one stand-alone slots parlor.

The RHDF will be supported by future expanded gaming revenues in the state, including 5 percent of the license fees of $25 million for the slots parlor and $50 million for each of the casinos, 9 percent of the slots revenue and .625 percent of the combined gross gaming revenue from the casinos.

The commissioners also endorsed the committee’s recommendation that they draft regulations to address the use of the funds in the event that “one of the breeds is no longer racing due to lack of racing facilities.”

That is a direct reference to the possibility that Wynn Resorts, which proposes developing a $1.6 billion casino two miles from the Suffolk Downs stable gate is selected over rival Mohegan Sun, which has partnered with Suffolk Downs to build and operate a $1.3 billion casino on land leased at the track, when the MGC chooses the licensee for the sole Boston area project.

The last surviving Thoroughbred track in New England would then shutter its doors.

In its report, the HRC recommended that in that event, the Thoroughbred industries’ share of the monies would “continue to be collected and held in an escrow account for three fiscal years to allow for and encourage the development of new facilities to ensure the continued racing of that breed.”

The MGC will begin deliberations on the awarding of the Boston area license on Monday and its final decision is expected on Sept. 12.