Misguided Policy on Horse Racing
According to a story in the Tribune Review June 19, the Auditor General claims the Department of Agriculture is threatening the horse racing industry in Pennsylvania by using funds meant for the industry for other purposes. This and other issues have prompted legislators to propose a bill to divert more money from the Horse Racing Development fund that uses casino gambling revenues to pay for drug testing.
The story included the remarkable revelation that 3 million visitors per year attend races in Pennsylvania and that a billion dollars are wagered. One must wonder if those numbers are correct why is it the industry is not paying its own way and must rely on money collected by casinos to support the industry. Of course, the decision to use casino revenue was part and parcel of the law creating slot machine gaming years ago. Still, one wonders if the industry is not economically viable without gaming dollars why not let it find its own level where it can be viable. Perhaps there are too many venues and too many races. Sending more tax dollars money to create new venues seems very imprudent.
In any event, given the state’s current and future budget problems and its propensity to avoid finding spending cuts or dealing with tough issues such as pension reform or teacher strikes, perhaps using the gaming money to help with the state and school funding as was originally planned might be worth taking a second look.