Ohio harness race purses going higher

Dec 3, 2012 6:11 PM

Ohio harness racing participants will be in for a bonanza come January when the state begins dishing out some of the money generated by the three operating casinos.

By law, the casinos currently operating in Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo cough up three percent of their revenues to be placed in a fund to beef up harness racing purses, as well as helping the state’s harness horse breeding industry.

The Ohio State Racing Commission has been asking industry insiders for suggestions on just how to divvy up the money. A program is expected to be completed and announced on Dec. 13.

Offering some confusion is the fact that racing dates for January haven’t yet been allotted. Last year, only Beulah Park and Northfield Park raced in January.

The Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, the group that represents horsemen at the state’s tracks, said an agreement has been reached regarding racing dates at the state’s four operating tracks. However, the dates have yet to be announced.

Still unsettled were the dates for Lebanon Raceway, said OHHA officials. Initially, they sought 52 racing days but with the possibility of additional purse money being awarded it is possible the horsemen may seek a racing extension.

Going into the new year, only Scioto Downs, owned by MTR Gaming Group Inc. of West Virginia, has been operating with slot machines. The other three tracks, two of which are expected to relocated, won’t install slot machines until at least 2014.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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