Pennsylvania coalition works to show scope of racing, breeding industry

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: May 13, 2017

The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition, which represents horsemen and breeders in the state, is surveying members to determine the scope of businesses that benefit from the racing and breeding industry.

The information will be used to show the importance of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund, which earns more than $200 million a year in revenue from casino-based slot machines. The Pennsylvania legislature is currently debating expanded gambling measures related to video gaming terminals at bars, Internet gaming and satellite casinos with slots.

PEC members recently noted at a Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission meeting that those expanded gambling measures would devote a percentage of revenue to the RHDF. They said the fund could be impacted if business is diverted from brick-and-mortar casinos to other facilities or online.

“The information gathered through this survey will enable us to reach out to suppliers and vendors to urge them to join us in advocating for the protection of the horseracing industry, which supports their own businesses,” according to a memo from the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association. Such businesses include farm contractors, truck and trailer dealerships, blacksmiths, veterinarians, track and feed providers.

Along with the PHBA, the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, and Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania are PEC members.

It remains to be seen whether any gambling measures will pass given disagreement among lawmakers. Sports betting and daily fantasy sports legislation also has been floated.

Earlier in May Sen. Camera Bartolota issued a memorandum outlining plans to introduce a bill that would authorize up to 25 satellite casinos, each with up to 500 slot machines, that must be located at least 25 miles from existing casinos, six of which are housed at racetracks.

The memo notes the facilities can accommodate off-track betting but not table games. The bill would award 2% of revenue from a 55% tax rate to the RHDF, which generally receives 10%-11% from other facilities in Pennsylvania.

(Parx photo by Tom LaMarra)