Section 11-65-22

Acquisition of interest in horse racing facility licensee or operator.

(a) A disqualified person may not acquire or hold an interest in a horse racing facility licensee or an operator. A commission may require that a disqualified person dispose of its interest in a horse racing facility licensee or an operator within a reasonable period of time provided that (i) the commission shall determine at a hearing that the owner of such interest is a disqualified person and (ii) the person who is alleged to be a disqualified person shall receive notice of and an opportunity to be heard at such hearing. Any person aggrieved by an action of a commission pursuant to this section may appeal to the circuit court of the host county pursuant to Section 11-65-12.

(b) Any person desiring to acquire stock in, a partnership or other ownership interest in, or to become an owner or member of, any entity which holds a horse racing facility license or an operator's license hereunder who, after giving effect to such acquisition, becomes the beneficial owner of more than five percent of the total outstanding stock of, or interest in, such entity, shall apply to the commission which issued any such license on a form prescribed by it for approval of such acquisition or membership. The commission shall consider such application forthwith, and may, if it finds it necessary, demand additional information concerning the proposed acquirer or transferee of stock or other interest or the proposed member, as the case may be. If in the judgment of the commission the person making such application is a disqualified person, or the acquisition or transfer of stock or other interest or membership in an entity holding a horse racing facility license or an operator's license would be detrimental to the public interest, to the honesty and integrity of horse racing or greyhound racing, or to the reputation of either thereof, then, in any such case, the application shall be denied. If the application is not denied within 60 days, it shall be deemed approved.

(c) If the district attorney of the host county shall have reason to believe, either because of information gained by his own investigation or because of information brought to his attention by others, that a disqualified person has acquired and continues to hold stock or any other interest in a horse racing facility licensee or an operator, the district attorney shall give written notice of such belief to the commission having jurisdiction over such licensee or operator and shall state in such notice the identity of the alleged disqualified person and such other information as shall justify an investigation by the commission into whether the person identified in such notice is a disqualified person and whether such person has acquired and continues to hold stock or any other interest in a horse racing facility licensee or an operator. If, within a period of 30 days after receipt of such notice from the district attorney, the commission does not conduct any such investigation, or if, after having commenced any such investigation within said period of 30 days, the commission ultimately determines that the person who is the subject of such investigation is not a disqualified person or has not acquired and does not hold any stock or other interest in a horse racing facility licensee or an operator, then, in either of such cases, the district attorney shall have the right to institute proceedings in the circuit court of the host county (1) to determine whether such person is a disqualified person and whether such person has acquired and continues to hold stock or any other interest in a horse racing facility licensee or an operator and (2) to enforce the provisions of this chapter which prohibit any disqualified person from acquiring or holding an interest in such licensee or operator. Upon any showing of clear and convincing evidence that any person is a disqualified person and has acquired and continues to hold stock or any other interest in a horse racing facility licensee or an operator, the circuit court shall order such disqualified person to dispose of such stock or other interest within a reasonable period of time.

(d) In determining a reasonable period of time for the disposition by a disqualified person of any stock or other interest in a horse racing facility licensee or an operator, the commission or the circuit court, as the case may be, shall take into account the facts and circumstances which justify the determination that the owner of such stock or other interest is a disqualified person, and if the status of any disqualified person results from any event or condition referred to in any of subparagraphs a, b, c, or d of Section 11-65-2(a)(11), the commission or the circuit court, as the case may be, shall order the disposition of such stock or other interest as quickly as shall be consistent with justice, and if either the commission or the circuit court determines that such disqualified person intentionally violated the provisions of this chapter prohibiting the acquisition of such stock or other interest, the disposition of the same may be ordered without delay regardless of the fact that such immediate disposition may cause substantial economic loss to such disqualified person.

(e) The district attorney shall cooperate fully with the commission in any investigation or proceeding undertaken by the commission pursuant to notice given to the commission by the district attorney. The commission shall cooperate fully with the district attorney in any investigation undertaken or proceeding instituted by the district attorney in consequence of the failure of the commission to take action pursuant to a notice given by the district attorney or to determine that the person who is the subject of such notice is not a disqualified person or has not acquired and does not hold any stock or other interest in a horse racing facility licensee or an operator.

(f) Whether in connection with the operation of a racing facility or any other business of a horse racing facility licensee or an operator or any affiliate thereof, such licensee or operator shall not employ, or cause to be employed, the spouse or child of any member of the Legislature, any state constitutional officer, or any elected official of the host county or the sponsoring municipality. Members of the Legislature and elected officials of the host county or the sponsoring municipality shall not acquire any ownership interest in a horse racing facility licensee or any operator nor shall any business or professional entities owned, in whole or in part, by such legislators or officials sell any goods or provide any services for such licensee or operator; provided that the preceding provisions of this sentence shall not be construed to require any such legislator or official to sell or otherwise dispose of any investment securities representing an ownership interest in a horse racing facility licensee or an operator if such securities were acquired in a public offering or for value in a market transaction which, in either case, was consummated prior to the effective date of this subsection.

(g) Anything contained herein to the contrary notwithstanding, the provisions of this section and Section 11-65-2(a)(11) are hereby expressly declared to be severable from the other provisions of this chapter, and if such provisions of this chapter are determined by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid for any reason, such determination shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remaining provisions of this chapter.

(Acts 1984, No. 84-131, p. 159, §22; Acts 1987, No. 87-615, p. 1069, §5; Acts 1991, No. 91-187, p. 246, §19.)