ST. PETERSBURG — Poker continues to be the bull in Florida. Wagering on greyhounds and thoroughbreds remains the bear.
For the seventh consecutive year, card-room gross receipts rose while parimutuel handle fell, according to statistics available from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's Division of Parimutuel Wagering.
Poker receipts reached an all-time high of $130,461,309 in fiscal year 2011-12 (July 1 through June 30), an increase of 4.3 percent from the previous season. Wagering on dogs, horses and jai-alai was $875,297,298, a minimal loss of 0.1 percent. That continues a nearly decadelong wagering trend within the state. In the past seven years, poker is up 194 percent, while parimutuel wagering is down 42.2 percent.
In fiscal year 2011-12, Derby Lane, the greyhound track in St. Petersburg, had increases in both categories. On-track and intertrack wagering was up 1.9 percent at $28,401,502, and poker gained 1.2 percent at $8,672,403. Of the 20 greyhound associations in the state, Derby Lane ranked second in wagering behind Palm Beach ($47,650,747) and fourth in poker, also behind leader Palm Beach ($12,613,059).
"We continue to do the best we can to operate our business under the current economic conditions," Derby Lane president and chairman of the board Vey Weaver said recently.
Tampa Greyhound Track, which runs its six-month meet at Derby Lane, had a 2.6 percent decline in parimutuel wagering at $24,069,810, still the third-best total at dog tracks. Tampa's card room receipts of $2,308,224 represented a 1.6 percent gain.
Tampa Bay Downs, the thoroughbred track in Oldsmar, reported total parimutuel handle of $89,026,087, a drop of 5 percent. The total ranked third among the four thoroughbred associations in the state. Calder in Miami Gardens led the way at $207,306,587. The Downs poker room was first at horse facilities at $5,188,930, an increase of 3.5 percent.
Statewide, greyhound wagering was flat at $264,164,760, while thoroughbred wagering was $530,745,740, a slight loss of 0.1 percent. Poker-room receipts at dog tracks were up 3.4 percent at $90,930,962. But card rooms at horse sites were off 2.1 percent at $14,176,614.
MORE DOGS: Hi Noon Renegade, an All-America first-team selection in 2011 for Nova kennel, was retired from racing this week. He will begin a stud career on the farm of Kenneth and Darlene Biehle in Thorndale, Texas. Owned by Charles Haliburton III and trained by Rosa Gibbs, Hi Noon Renegade was a two-time stakes winner, capturing the $64,000 Sprint Classic and $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile in 2011 for kennel owner Hans Limmer. He won 56 races from 100 career starts, all at Derby Lane. Hi Noon Renegade earned $68,292, and cashed in the money 87 percent of the time with top-four finishes.