Racetrack supporters may compromise with Douglas

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(Host) Backers of a plan to expand simulcast betting at the Green Mountain Racetrack in Pownal say they’re ready to negotiate a compromise with the Douglas administration.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Finding ways to improve the economic climate of southwestern Vermont is a key priority of the Douglas administration. This Wednesday the Governor will meet with Pownal Selectboard to discuss a number of options including efforts to revitalize the Green Mountain Racetrack.

During the fall campaign, Douglas said he supported a plan to expand simulcasting at the track as a way to help improve the profitability of the facility. Simulcasting allows people at the track to place bets on races in other parts of the country that are televised to the facility.

Backers of the plan thought Douglas was supporting year round simulcasting, when in fact he was only suggesting that it be allowed on non-race days during the racing season. Despite a rocky beginning, both the administration and key lawmakers supporting efforts to restore the track are now working on a compromise plan. Essex-Orleans Senator Jim Greenwood is one of the lead sponsors of the simulcasting bill:

(Greenwood) “We started asking for the year round. I think that’s a very negotiable time issue. If the governor and the administration feels very strongly that it should be less than the full year, let’s talk about that. I think that’s certainly an issue that we can talk about.”

(Kinzel) Another option under consideration calls for the creation of a special horse training facility at the racetrack that would include a longer simulcast season than is offered in the traditional racing season. The governor says he’s willing to consider this plan:

(Douglas) “I’m certainly willing to have those conversations. My objective, as I indicated at the outset, is to have some economic development there and the details are something that we can continue to discuss. I want to make sure the Racing Commission is part of those conversations because they’re the ones that have the expertise and licensing of track facilities. But I think we’re on the same track.”

(Kinzel) Douglas says he opposes year round simulcasting at the racetrack because he’s concerned that this kind of operation will attract elements of organized crime to the state.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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