Citing HISA Concerns, Fonner Won’t Simulcast Races

With uncertainties regarding the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) still swirling, Fonner Park management announced Friday that it will not simulcast its races to locations outside of Nebraska. The meet is set to begin Feb. 10 and run through May 6.

Fonner will become the second track not sending out its signal due to questions over HISA. Last year, the Texas Racing Commission ordered its tracks to cut off simulcasting because of HISA, only to reverse the decision earlier this month after the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion from HISA to rehear a case in which the court had held that HISA’s enabling legislation was unconstitutional. However, citing a need to further review the many complexities surrounding HISA, Sam Houston, the lone track now running in Texas, has not resumed simulcasting.

In a statement released Friday, management said it took the measure “because of the many uncertainties associated with HISA in Nebraska and the nation.”

“The unreasonable and overreaching HISA rules and regulations have presented demands and obstacles that a racetrack our size cannot achieve or endure,” said Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak.

Under HISA rules, racetracks that do not voluntarily become a covered HISA racetrack are not permitted to send their signals out of state.

“The new increased costs to Fonner Park, plus the conflict with enforcing the variance between state and federal rules of racing, were determined unsurmountable to overcome for Nebraska’s flagship Thoroughbred track,” the statement read.

“Fonner Park is a plaintiff in a large, national, multi-plaintiff lawsuit against HISA, but that lawsuit has not advanced with sufficient clarity to ensure that HISA rules would not be applicable to us,” Kotulak said. “Challenging federal regulations is a gamble my board has currently chosen not to make, as this would leave Fonner Park splayed open and at the mercy of a lengthy judicial process and costly legal circumstances that would significantly damage Fonner Park and our horsemen. We’re not some gyp joint. We’re a TRA racetrack. And for 70 years we’ve provided for our horse, horsemen and horseplayers. It’s a shame it’s come to this.”

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