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Track, pari-mutuel clerks at odds over contract

April 14, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The video lottery agreement between management at Charles Town Races and the Pari-mutuel Clerks Union has expired, and a new agreement will have to be reached before the track can obtain a new video lottery license in the coming fiscal year, according to a West Virginia Lottery Commission attorney.

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Three groups, including the Local 553 Pari-mutuel Clerks Union, the Horsemen's Protective and Benevolent Association and the West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association, are required to sign off on the contract for the oval's video lottery license, according to the track and the Lottery Commission.

The contract details how video lottery revenues will be distributed between the three groups and the track. The track's current video lottery license expires in June and a new one will have to be issued in July.

Although the track had an agreement with pari-mutuel clerks last June when the current video lottery license was issued, the agreement has since expired, said John Melton, an attorney for the state Lottery Commission office in Charleston.

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Pari-mutuel Clerks Union Local President Benny Noland said pari-mutuel clerks stand alone among Charles Town Races employees as the only workers who are not provided health insurance.

Noland predicts the lack of insurance will make it difficult for an agreement on a video lottery contract in June. "We're being forced into this dilemma," Noland said Wednesday.

Bill Bork Jr., director of marketing at the track, would not comment in detail about the issue but said there is nothing prohibiting pari-mutuel clerks from getting health insurance.

Pari-mutuel clerks process all the bets on live horse races at the track. The union represents 84 clerks, Noland said.

Video lottery is an important part of the track's racing entertainment. There are 935 video lottery machines at the track along with 565 coin-drop slot machines.

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