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Report: Progress In Pennsylvania

Published: October 26, 2015 1:27 pm ET

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It has been reported that a resolution to a threatened shutdown of the Pennsylvania horse racing industry could be announced as soon as tomorrow (Tuesday, October 27), as horse racing and government officials met late last week for meetings on the situation.

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

According to a follow-up report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, roughly two dozen representatives from the Pennsylvania horse racing industry met with the state’s agriculture secretary, Russell Redding, this past Friday (October 21). The article explains that ‘significant progress’ was made and that an agreement could possibly be announced within days.

The State Racing Fund covers the costs of drug testing for racehorses, equine laboratory staffing, the racing commission, etc. The annual cost for those endeavours is reported to be 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 has been in decline in recent years, hence the monetary shortcomings that the fund has seen in recent years. The state had infused cash into the fund in recent years, but it is now looking for the industry itself to top up the fund.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has quoted some PA racing officials as being upset with the way that the state has handled the issue through the media.

Kim Hankins, the executive director of the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, was quoted as saying the following.

“The meeting was very cooperative. There was some dissension due to the fact that the governor’s office put out a release talking about the shutdown of racing. We thought that was very unnecessary. ... I don’t think there was ever a possibility of shutting down racing. But the governor’s office exerted a little pressure.

“We didn’t take it very well because we have the largest Standardbred sale of horses coming up next week here in Harrisburg, and it could cause people to be concerned about the health of the industry and to not bid like they otherwise would. So we took offense at it. We expressed those concerns at the meeting. Everybody was pretty forthright with their opinions.”

(With files from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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