This agency that the industry knows simply as “DBPR” has oversight for all activities that take place at Florida’s pari-mutuel facilities including poker and slot machine activities. Just this past week the agency announced a rules workshop in October to review proposed changes to guidelines concerning parimutuel sports. Most of the changes seek to clarify operating conditions for dog and horse racing along with jai-alai. In some ways it is comical to read that horseracing should take place on an oval track or that obstacles cannot be placed in an animal’s way that might make them reverse course.
The state agency proposes defining dimensions of a fronton along with minimum width of a dog track. Those in the industry are not shy about admitting how the, once central, pari-mutuel activity has become a sideshow as poker and slots now are the catalyst for profits. In most cases the pari-mutuel activity is not much more than a required nuisance that allows operators to maintain poker and slots at their facilities.
A few desperate or creative individuals, depending on your viewpoint, have found ways to circumvent existing rules by operating barrel racing or having two jai-alai players compete against each other in eight consecutive games. The big question that will be answered at the upcoming legislative session is how to deal with the changing times in the pari-mutuel world. A simple solution would be to allow the poker and slot operations to continue without the required tie to live pari-mutuels at the facilities. That would be simple so we all know that will not happen.