The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association CEO Lonny Powell joined a panel of racing experts on Jan. 5 for the Pari-Mutuel Committee session at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States during their annual winter meeting in Fort Lauderdale.

Titled “The Future of Horse Racing”, the session focused on the pressures of federal regulation plus rapidly expanding gaming options across the country.

Powell opened the panel by thanking Florida legislators for their “historic infusion of economic development revenue” via Florida House Bill 7063 that provides more than $60 million across two years for the support of Thoroughbred breeding, racing and regulation. Powell channeled sports imagery to emphasize FTBOA’s years-long message commitment as the foundation for HB7063’s passage.

“Because of our ability to tell our economic story over the years, the time was right,” Powell said. “You don’t need to apologize for getting good things done in our industry. Our industry spent way too much time trying to throw the hail mary, run time off the clock or waiting for the perfect legislation that never happens to make everybody happy. Instead, using more sports parlance, be satisfied with grinding out a double, a first down, just keep moving the ball forward.”

Powell confirmed to the audience that FTBOA remains underway seeking to expand the current two-year funding commitment into a permanent objective.

Powell continued by highlighting other components in FTBOA’s legislative long-game that include resolving an aged industry funding model for breeding and racing incentives and advanced deposit wagering considerations.

“We have a statute that still uses on-track wagering as a metric—that is absolutely crazy as a funding statute for [the FTBOA], and ADW needs a lot of attention.”

Taking note of robust conference participation from the Seminole tribe and Hard Rock casino that have recently launched legal sports wagering in Florida, Powell proposed, “I’d like to ask that the Hard Rock or the tribe, please let’s sit down and talk about historical horse racing language. It could really help our industry and we could do some partnership things together.”

In addition to Powell, the panel included Chris Cipolla, Senior Director Horse Racing, DraftKings; Steve May, Senior Executive Government Affairs, Gaming Laboratories International; and Jeff True, Senior Vice President Sales and Client Services, 1/ST Technology. The group discussed pari-mutuel gaming and technological options now available for legislators and regulators to consider in 2024. The session was chaired by West Virginia Senator Jason Barrett.

Return to Feb. 7 issue of Wire to Wire