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Audit: Florida's Pari-mutuels Can't Pay for Regulation

21 October 2003

FLORIDA – As reported by the Florida Ledger: "Florida's pari-mutuel industry is unable to pay for the cost of regulation and other required obligations after years of declining attendance and tumbling receipts, a state audit said Monday.

"…Although the Legislature has tried to shore up the industry in recent years by making it easier to bet, the state has been forced to dip into its general revenue fund to account for shortages since the pari-mutuel wagering trust fund is unable to sustain an annual $29.9 million distribution to counties required by law.

"The audit by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability said attendance had dropped at horse and dog tracks and jai-alai frontons venues by 80 percent since 1990. Several facilities have closed in that time.

"The amount of taxes, fees and fines paid by permitholders has dropped from $110.5 million in 1990-91 to $34.9 million in fiscal year 2002-03.

"…Among recommendations in its audit, OPPAGA suggested expanded gaming in existing facilities such as video lottery, reducing part-time employees at existing facilities, eliminating the $446,500 million distribution to counties and relaxing regulation of a diuretic which may enhance racehorse performance.

"However, DBPR Secretary Diane Carr noted in her response that any compromise in the division's regulatory effectiveness could threatened the integrity of the pari-mutuel races and games - which generates about $35 million a year in taxes and fees…"

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