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Unlimited Simulcasts Sought

April 22, 2002
By: Brian Connolly
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1679

JEFFERSON CITY - Louis Cella wants to bring Missourians so close to horse racing they can feel the hooves hit the ground. He says that won't happen unless he can also bring them races happening thousands of miles away.

On Monday a Senate committee considered a bill that would lift current limits on how often horse racing tracks can offer simulcasting. Simulcasting allows patrons at one track to bet on races televised from other tracks.

Current Missouri law allows one day of simulcast racing for each day of live racing. The bill's sponsor Rep. Wayne Crump, D-Potosi, said elimination of that limit is necessary for a track to be economically feasible.

"The betting on just live races at a track will not support a track," Crump said. "That's why we don't have horse racing (in Missouri)."

Voters approved live horse racing in 1984, but no tracks are currently in operation. Cella said his family, which currently operates a track in Hot Springs, Ark., wants to change that.

They have plans to build a track 90 miles east of Columbia in St. Peters. However, Cella said that without unlimited simulcasting those plans won't move forward.

"It's a requirement today," Cella said. "In today's environment you must have simulcasting. You would not survive without it, nor would we be interested in anything without that."

If the limit is lifted, Cella said his family would like to get a track "up and running and show live horse racing in Missouri as soon as possible."

The House has already passed the bill. The Senate Financial and Governmental Organization, Veterans' Affairs and Elections Committee will likely discuss it again on Thursday.