Five Horsemen to Remove Equipment from Charles Town Races and Slots After Losing Case

On September 11th, 2008, at least 5 horsemen will have to remove their horses and equipment from some, if not all of their stalls at the Charles Town Races and Slots after a judge denied issuing a temporary restraining order in a dispute regarding stable agreements. The decision arises from the civil case filed against the Charles Town Races and Slots this week by lawyer David M. Hammer on behalf of Tina Mawing, George Yetsook, Lynn Venham, Robert Bir, John Milton and the Charles Town HBPA, which represents the horsemen.

Hammer is alleging that the HBPA members that he is representing were stripped of their stalls at the racing track with due process and without any chance to appeal their case after they have received a hand delivered notice on August 29th, 2008 telling them that they have to leave this day. Lawyer Brian M. Peterson, who represented the Charles Town Races and Slots at the hearing, confirmed that the racing track extended the deadline but disagreed with Hammer’s arguments that Mawing was being targeted personally because of her testimony before a West Virginia Racing Commission proceeding involving Charles Town HBPA president Raymond J. “Randy” Funkhouser.

Hammer alleges in his civil action that the racing track was also inspired to discriminate against Mawing for voicing concerns to a number of racing official and the state governor about the use of powdered rodent poisoning around the area of her barn. Hammer said that reductions imposed on Yetsook also were believed to be connected with his testimony in the Racing Commission hearing. Funkhouser declined to commented on the ruling of the court.

Peterson said that he has not filed a response on behalf of the racing track but said that the reduction in stalls were only a part of the periodic review process. He also confirmed that there were about 140 vacant stalls at the racing track, not including the stall reductions about to be enforced. Hammer commented that the Charles Town Races and Slots is contracted with the Charles Town HBPA to hold 1,148 horse stalls for the horsemen group’s members.

Florida Attorney General Sues Gov. Crist to Stop Gambling Compact

On December 20th, 2007, Attorney General Bill McCollum has filed a lawsuit against the federal government in order to stop the approval of the gaming compact between Gov. Charlie Crist and the Seminole Indian Tribe that will give permission for gambling expansion at tribal casinos.

The U.S. Interior Department is currently studying the compact that will allow the Seminole Tribe’s seven casino facilities to feature games like baccarat and blackjack. McCollum firmly believes that the Department of Interior should not give their approval until the state Supreme Court has the chance to decide on whether or not the Legislature has to give their approval on the gambling contract.
Both House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt are challenging the compact. McCollum said that he had filed the case to avoid having the Seminole Tribe install the casino games and then possibly having the state Supreme Court decided that Gov. Crist did not have the proper authority to decide on his own.

The Interior Department has until December 29th, 2007 to review the gambling compact. The Supreme Court scheduled arguments on the issue on January 30th, 2007. Under the gaming compact, the state will get an initial payment of $50 million and $100 million guaranteed in the initial year.

In the second year of the operation of the Seminole Tribe, the state will receive $125 million and $150 million in the third year. From there, the amount that the state will receive will depend on the revenues that will be generated by the Seminole Tribe.

Tribal officials can at least install Las Vegas style slot machines without paying any cash to the state because Florida approved the offering of the slot machines at Broward County frontons and horse and dog racing tracks.