Appeals court rules in favor of Ohio horsemen over simulcast rights - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Appeals court rules in favor of Ohio horsemen over simulcast rights

The United States Court of Appeals for the sixth circuit upheld a district court ruling reinforcing the portion of the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 giving local horsemen's organizations – in this case the Ohio division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association – approval rights on simulcast exports, even when a state law says the racing commission may overrule them.

The case involves the 2006 simulcast veto by the Ohio HBPA of Beulah Park and River Downs races being sent to the Pennsylvania harness track Chester Downs. The HBPA rejected the simulcast agreement negotiated between the Ohio and Pennsylvania tracks because horsemen wanted to increase the price of the signal from 3% to 5%. Owners of the Ohio tracks petitioned the Ohio State Racing Commission to reject that veto, which was the right of the tracks under state law, and the commission agreed with the racetracks.

Simulcasting to Chester Downs was permitted over the objection of the HBPA, triggering the lawsuit by the horsemen's group.

Essentially, the Appeals Court affirmed that federal laws like the Interstate Horseracing Act preempt state laws if they “directly conflict,” which was the case in this instance. The court recognized an earlier “horsemen's veto” dispute involving Turfway Park and the Kentucky HBPA. That opinion also came down on the side of the HBPA.

“The horsemen's veto is an integral part of the (Interstate Horseracing Act), and because the Ohio statute would negate the veto in certain circumstances,” the court wrote, “it is preempted.”

To read the Appeals Court ruling, click here.

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