A Florida Senate Gaming Committee heard a report that suggests horse racing supports 12,000 jobs in the state and the committee also heard Feb. 3 the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association's support of an idea that would call for an off-track Miami casino along with a non-profit race meeting at Gulfstream Park.
The job numbers were included in a just-released statewide study completed for the state's racing and breeding interests by Cummings Associates. The comprehensive estimate of the economic impacts of horse racing in the state include:
• The horse racing industry supports more than 12,000 jobs statewide.
• The industry pays those workers more than $400 million in wages and benefits each year.
• The industry generates an annual economic impact of more than $900 million each year, a larger impact than spring training baseball in the state.
"The Thoroughbred horse industry is a major agri-business for Florida and has an historic and enormous positive economic impact that the state must continue to embrace," said FTBOA chief executive officer Lonny Powell. "We must move beyond the status-quo for this industry in Florida where we risk losing ground to other states on jobs created and dollars invested. We ask the legislature to work with us in the pursuit of credible and forward-looking strategies to build this industry, to increase the global and local investment and to hire more workers."
According to the study, horse racing and breeding generates a wide range of jobs for those engaged in the care, feeding, training, and transportation of horses; those engaged in racetrack operations serving the horses, horsemen, and visitors and maintaining the pari-mutuel wagering industry; and those monitoring and regulating the industry in fees and tax collection.
Dedicated to growing the industry, the FTBOA is encouraged by their recent agreement with Gulfstream Park, the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and Resorts World Omni/Genting that would include relocating an existing non-profit Thoroughbred permit to Resorts World Omni.
The additional funds to the industry could be used in many ways, including to increase Thoroughbred purses, expand stakes and prize money for Florida-bred stakes races and winners, and provide a needed boost to Florida-bred awards and incentives, that in turn would make owning a Florida horse farm, training center, horse, or trackmore attractive to local and global investment, according to the organization.
"The agreement proposed between Resorts World Omni/Genting and the industry is ground-breaking for us and will provide great economic benefit to the state. It represents the potential to take Florida to the highest levels of racing, breeding and global investment with impact reaching from the beaches of south Florida all the way to the greenspace and farm country of Marion County," said Powell. "We commend the Florida Legislature for taking a close look at the gaming issue in our state. We strongly encourage them to take appropriate legislative action regarding this game changing agreement between the industry and Resorts World Omni/Genting."
The agreement between the parties and non-profit nature of the permit allows for a portion of the funds to be used to support retired Thoroughbred aftercare programs. Funds will also be made available to other participant related causes, such as such as care and insurance programs for stable area workers and disabled jockeys.