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PA Racing Threatened With Shutdown

Published: October 23, 2015 1:53 pm ET

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On Thursday, October 22, a spokesman for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said publicly that the state could shut down the PA horse racing industry this coming week if issues relating to the State Racing Fund are not rectified.

According to an article by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, officials within the state government have said that the State Racing Fund has seen its revenues decline for years, and that it has been the recipient of cash infusions to rectify those problems.

The fund covers the costs of drug testing for racehorses, equine laboratory staffing, the racing commission, etc. According to the report, those costs annually ring in at roughly $20 million. The fund’s monies come from a tax on wagers that are made on horse racing. Wagering on horse racing in Pennsylvania have been in decline in recent years, hence the monetary shortcomings that the fund has seen in recent years.

The current Pennsylvania budget impasse is worsening the situation. Money that had previously been funneled in from the government to prop up the fund is now being scrutinized. The Governor’s Office is now looking for the racing industry to start covering more of the costs, and if a deal isn’t reached by Friday, October 30 the state is saying Pennsylvania racing could be shut down for an unspecified amount of time.

"It wasn't an ultimatum – it was a hard truth," Jeff Sheridan, a spokesman for Governor Wolf, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via email. "If there is not a solution by next Friday ... we will be forced to shut down horse racing."

The report also says that the threat of a shutdown is also a move to spur legislators to quickly pass a bill that calls for long-term fixes to the situation. The legislation would see horse racing have to pay for drug-testing, which is said to cost roughly $9 million a year.

(With files from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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