Home Opinion Letters Harrah’s and Horsemen

Harrah’s and Horsemen

0 458

Industries that have a lot in common: people that depend on each of these industries to feed, clothe and support their families. Like most issues, there are two sides and of this writing, both sides have deep concerns. Louisiana Downs and its existence is at stake if nothing is done to change its present state. It is imperative that both industries compare notes and resolve to work together in addressing their needs and find common ground that will reverse the downward trend in attendance and with owners and trainers that bring their horses here for racing competition. It is not cheap to run and maintain a race track. Nor is it cheap to breed, feed, provide hay, training equipment and to give veterinary care for those beautiful and athletic animals, the horses.

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs has a bottom line to protect and the Horsemen also have 1,000+ allied jobs to protect. Even certain dedicated funds for the Bossier Parish Police Jury and for the Bossier Parish School Board, which are generated by LA Downs are in question. Factors that have contributed to this situation are numerous; competition from the many casino’s and the economy are two factors that impact the track in a negative way. Both issues have surfaced in almost every aspect of this regions and national economies.

H. B. 550, a bill that I authored, explores the option of dropping the number of racing days from 82 to 30. The bill also addresses changing the tax structure of gaming revenue that contributes to the purse money and local services. This would provide some relief for Harrah’s but in my opinion, would hasten the demise for LA Downs. WE CANNOT LET THIS HAPPEN! I have taken some criticism from the Horsemen Industry, but I took the risk in order to get the dialogue started. Can you imagine, my wife being a horseman, what she had to say to me after she read the bill? I definitely was not nominated for the “Husband of the Year” award. I felt like the discussion needed to go further than the barns and the stables and that ALL parties involved needed to come to the table and fashion a compromise or a strategy that would both sustain LA Downs and create a revival of interest in horse racing.

Jobs are at stake; family businesses are at stake. Even the passion of raising, caring and feeding the horses are at stake. The stakes are high for both industries. Horse owners are attracted to larger purses. Unfortunately, LA Downs has the smallest purse in the state. These small purses make it very difficult to attract quality horses to North Louisiana. Harrah’s feels that by reducing the number of race days, the purse paid per day may increase. This change would enable Harrah’s to be more competitive against the other three tracks in the state. There is much to discuss and until both parties come together for the common good of both industries, we will not be able to accomplish our goal of revitalizing LA Downs.

 

Henry Burns

District 9

Haughton, LA