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Who Should Pay For Drug Testing?

Published: March 22, 2014 10:10 am ET

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A bill that's currently circulating would shift the cost of drug testing from the horse racing commission to the owners of the horses that race there.

According to an article in the New Castle News, Pennsylvania's state House unanimously voted on Monday to approve a $5-million emergency funding bill that will keep the two state racing commissions viable until the end of the fiscal year.

Pennsylvania's horse racing is currently split into two commissions - the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission and the Pennsylvania State Harness Racing Commission, both reporting to the Department of Agriculture. The commissions are collectively operating with a $2 million deficit and pay in the $7 million area annually to perform drug tests on horses in both thoroughbred and harness racing.

State Senator Elder Vogel of Beaver County, PA said that the emergency fund is a temporary fix as Legislature considers dissolving the commissions and possibly moving the responsibilities to the state's gaming control board.

The New Castle News states that Vogel authored both the emergency funding bill and the bill that calls for the commissions to dissolve and shift paying for drug testing to the horse owners.

Lobbyists for the horse racing industry insist that this bill would drive horse owners to neighbouring states, but Ohio is one such state that's already operating under such a model of owners paying for testing. Racehorse owners in Ohio currently share the costs of testing but according to the article that cost will be fully transferred to the owners by Summer 2014.

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