Section 11-65-20

Terms of operator's license.

(a) An operator's license issued under this chapter, whether for horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon or for greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon, shall be for an initial period of 20 years, but shall be subject to renewal as provided in this section. A commission shall have no power to modify the terms of an operator's license, once issued, without the prior written consent of the holder of such license. An operator's license shall be reviewed annually, but such license shall be revocable by the commission only if the holder thereof shall not be in compliance with the provisions of this chapter or the valid rules, regulations and orders of the commission and such noncompliance shall have continued for 60 days after written notice shall be given to such holder by the commission stating the circumstances of noncompliance and demanding corrective action.

(b) A commission issuing an operator's license shall state therein the person to whom such license is issued, the activity licensed thereby (namely, whether the license is to conduct horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon or greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon), the location of the racing facility where the licensed activity is to be conducted, the period during which such license shall be in effect, and such other conditions of the license and related information as such commission shall deem proper, subject to compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

(c) An operator's license, whether for horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon or greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon, shall be renewable at the expiration of the original term for successive renewal terms of three years each without limit as to the number of such renewal terms that may be granted to the original licensee. Not more than 180 days nor less than 90 days prior to the expiration of the original term of an operator's license, or the expiration of the renewal term for which such license shall have last been renewed, as the case may be, the holder of such license shall give written notice to the commission as to whether or not such holder will seek a renewal of such license. If the holder of an expiring operator's license, whether for an original or a renewal term, states in such notice that it has no interest in seeking a renewal term, then the commission shall make such arrangements, consistent with the provisions of this chapter, to obtain a replacement licensee for the expiring license through open competition or such other selection process as the commission may deem desirable. If the holder of an expiring license states in such notice that it desires to renew the license for a renewal term, the commission shall require such holder to submit a new application for the operator's license for such renewal term at least 60 days prior to the expiration of the current license, which application shall be in such form and shall contain such information as may be prescribed by the commission. The commission may require a licensee applying for a renewal term to provide the same information and to meet the same qualifications as would, at the time of such renewal application, be required of a successful applicant for an original operator's license. The commission shall either grant or deny the requested renewal of the license within 30 days after receiving the application therefor, but the commission shall not deny the renewal of an operator's license except for good cause. Without limiting the generality of the factors that may constitute good cause for denying the renewal of an operator's license, it is hereby expressly provided that good cause shall include (i) chronic and repeated prior failures of such operator to comply with the provisions of this chapter as implemented by the rules, regulations and orders of the commission and (ii) the prior failure of such operator to exploit fully the economic potential of such license as evidenced by a limited schedule of racing programs, poor quality of racing programs, and poor attendance and participation in pari-mutuel wagering by the public. An operator's license shall be renewed by a commission on the same terms as originally issued, except for such conditions as may be necessary to correct matters that would constitute good cause for denying the renewal of such license.

(d) The commission shall issue rules and regulations pursuant to which a horse racing operator or a greyhound racing operator, as the case may be, shall schedule racing programs to be conducted pursuant to the license held by such operator. An operator's license, whether for horse racing or greyhound racing, shall entitle such operator to schedule racing programs on as many racing days during a calendar year as such operator, in the exercise of its business judgment, shall deem advantageous; provided that programs of horse racing or greyhound racing may not be scheduled for more than 310 racing days in any calendar year. The commission may require an operator to provide and update periodically the schedule of racing programs, whether horse racing or greyhound racing, that the operator proposes to conduct during each calendar year, but such schedule may, upon reasonable notice to the commission, be altered as often and to such extent as the operator deems necessary. A program of horse racing or greyhound racing, as the case may be, shall consist of such number of individual races of such kind as the operator may determine, and more than one program may be held on any racing day and scheduled at such time or times as the operator shall deem advantageous. If an operator holds both a license for horse racing and greyhound racing, different programs of live or simulcast horse racing and live or simulcast greyhound racing may be scheduled for separate times on the same racing day if the racing facility can accommodate, or be modified to accommodate, such different programs.

(e) Any program of horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon or any program of greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon that began before midnight of any racing day may be continued past midnight of the next calendar day to the end of the racing day in which such program began; provided, however, that the operator shall comply with all applicable general and local laws and county and municipal ordinances governing the times during which businesses serving the general public may sell food and alcoholic beverages and provide entertainment. No programs of horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon nor programs of greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon shall be permitted to commence on any Sunday or Christmas Day or Thanksgiving Day, but such prohibition shall not be interpreted to prohibit licensed activities during the final two hours of any preceding racing day.

(f) While any operator's license or licenses for horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon theretofore issued by a commission shall remain in effect, such commission shall not issue any other operator's license for horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon in the commission municipal jurisdiction without the duly authorized consent of the operator or operators holding all such operator's licenses for horse racing already in effect, which consent shall be obtained in writing prior to the issuance of any such other operator's license for horse racing. Likewise, while any operator's license or licenses for greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon theretofore issued by a commission shall remain in effect, such commission shall not issue any other operator's license for greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon in the commission municipal jurisdiction without the duly authorized consent of the operator or operators holding all such operator's licenses for greyhound racing already in effect, which consent shall be obtained in writing prior to the issuance of any such other operator's license for greyhound racing.

(g) Any provisions of this chapter or any other law to the contrary notwithstanding, a commission may, at the time of the issuance of an operator's license to a horse racing operator or a greyhound racing operator, as the case may be, or at any time thereafter, enter into a contract with such operator establishing restrictive conditions under which such commission may license the conduct of horse racing or greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon that would compete with the racing or wagering activities covered by the license of such operator, which conditions may, in the discretion of such commission, preclude the licensing of any competing racing events or activities while such operator's license shall remain in effect. For purposes of any such contract, it is hereby expressly recognized that an operation conducting greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon, in addition to competing with other greyhound racing operations, will, in economic effect, compete with any geographically proximate operation conducting horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon. The provisions of any such contract between a commission and an operator shall be deemed to be a part of the terms and conditions of the operator's license granted to such operator. Without in any way limiting the nature of the consideration that may be given by an operator to make any such contract binding, the obligations (including any future obligations) of any horse racing operator to pay the state horse wagering fee and the commission horse wagering fee, or the obligations of any greyhound racing operator to pay the state dog racing privilege tax and the commission greyhound wagering fee, together with the other economic benefits to be derived by the state and by the commission and its sponsoring municipality from the conduct of racing and pari-mutuel wagering activities, shall be deemed sufficient consideration to make such contract binding upon such commission and any state racing commission. Any such contract between a commission and an operator shall be binding upon such commission and any state racing commission at any time exercising jurisdiction over such commission or such operator and shall not be impaired by any subsequent action of such commission or such state racing commission or by any act of the Legislature of Alabama which, through the authorization of another licensing entity or by any other means, would permit or encourage the conduct of racing and wagering activities by persons other than such operator in contravention of such contract.

(h) In order to protect the continued viability of existing greyhound racing in Greene County and Macon County, a commission shall include in each operator's license for greyhound racing issued pursuant to this chapter conditions, as and to the extent hereinafter provided, which prohibit or restrict advertising by such operator in the "protected territory" hereinafter respectively defined for Greene County and Macon County. The protected territory for Greene County shall comprise the entire state of Mississippi and the entire area of the following counties in Alabama: Marion, Lamar, Fayette, Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Bibb, Sumter, Greene, Hale, Perry, Dallas, Lowndes, Wilcox, Marengo, Choctaw, Washington, Clarke and Monroe. The protected territory for Macon County shall comprise the entire area of the following counties of Alabama: Randolph, Chambers, Lee, Russell, Macon, Bullock, Montgomery, Lowndes, Butler, Crenshaw, Pike, Barbour, Henry, Dale, Coffee, Covington, Conecuh, Escambia, Geneva and Houston. The license issued to an operator for greyhound racing shall prohibit such operator, or any person acting on its behalf, from advertising, in the protected territory of each of Greene County and Macon County, the existence of the greyhound racing operation covered by such license, the nature of the attraction or entertainment provided thereby or any other aspect, feature or circumstance of greyhound racing and pari-mutuel wagering thereon as conducted by such operator that has the purpose, intent or effect of inducing people to patronize such greyhound racing operation or any activity associated therewith.

(i) The advertising prohibited in the protected territory of each of Greene County and Macon County shall include, without limitation thereto, the following: (i) any advertising or solicitation by direct mail sent to addresses in the protected territory; (ii) any advertising or solicitation by telephone or other means of telecommunication directed to receiving devices located in the protected territory; (iii) any commercial messages broadcast from radio or television stations having either studio or transmission facilities located in the protected territory; (iv) any commercial messages transmitted by cable television to receiving units in the protected territory; (v) any advertising carried by newspaper, magazines or other publications published at any location in the protected territory; and (vi) any billboards or other signs visible from public roads in the protected territory. Any provision of this chapter to the contrary notwithstanding, a greyhound racing operator shall not be deemed to violate the prohibition of its license against advertising in the protected territory as a result of any of the following occurrences: (1) the reception in the protected territory of radio or television transmissions which are broadcast by radio or television stations having neither studio nor transmission facilities in the protected territory and which contain information of any kind concerning the greyhound racing operation covered by such license, irrespective of whether such information consists of paid advertising, news stories or other matter; (2) with respect to newspapers, magazines and other publications, whether published at a location in or outside the protected territory, the delivery and sale in the protected territory of a publication containing a news article or other information concerning the greyhound racing operation covered by such license that does not constitute paid advertising; and (3) with respect to newspapers, magazines and other publications that are not published at a location in the protected territory, the delivery and sale in the protected territory of magazines, newspapers and other publications, whether pursuant to subscription, newsstand sales or otherwise, which contain paid advertising concerning the greyhound racing operation covered by such license.

(j) The prohibition in the license of a greyhound racing operator against advertising in the protected territory of each of Greene County and Macon County shall continue for the initial term of the operator's license and each renewal thereof; provided that if greyhound racing in either Greene County or Macon County shall be discontinued for a period of two consecutive years or more, then such greyhound racing operator shall be fully released from the prohibition against advertising in the protected territory of the county in which greyhound racing shall be so discontinued, and the resumption of greyhound racing in such county after a period of discontinuance of two years or more shall not cause such prohibition to be reinstated against such greyhound racing operator. A commission issuing a license for greyhound racing shall have the duty to enforce the prohibition against advertising in the protected territory of Greene County and Macon County as and to the same extent that it is bound to enforce other terms and conditions of an operator's license issued pursuant to this chapter; provided that Greene County or Macon County, or the racing commission of either county, or any licensee of either such commission, or any citizen, taxpayer or other interested party in either such county may, without waiting for enforcement action by the commission issuing such operator's license, bring a civil action for the enforcement of such prohibition, by way of injunctive relief or claim for damages or both, in the circuit court of the host county or of any other county in the state where a violation of the prohibition shall have occurred.

(k) A commission issuing an operator's license may require a bond with surety acceptable to it in an amount sufficient to secure payment of any indebtedness anticipated to be incurred by the holder of such license to such commission in any year, but such bond shall not for any reason be set by the commission at an amount greater than the amount of indebtedness reasonably anticipated to be secured thereby.

(Acts 1984, No. 84-131, p. 159, §20; Acts 1991, No. 91-187, p. 246, §18.)