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Study: WV Racing, Breeding Has $321M Impact

The economic impact report looks at the Thoroughbred and Greyhound industries.

An economic impact study shows the Thoroughbred and Greyhound racing and breeding industries account for at least $321 million a year in total business volume in West Virginia.

The study was performed by the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics on behalf of Thoroughbred horsemen and Greyhound owners and breeders. A note states opinions expressed in the study are those of the authors, not the racing and breeding industries in the state.

The study states the total business volume from racing and breeding amounts to about 12% of the leisure and hospitality sector in the state and provides roughly 7,300 jobs, or 10% of the sector. Racing and breeding generate about $4.6 million in tax revenue for state government, according to the report, which notes three-quarters of the total economic impact is attributed to the Thoroughbred industry.

The groups–the Charles Town Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Mountaineer HBPA, West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association–last year asked the West Virginia Racing Commission to authorize the study. The WVRC then turned it over to the university.

Owners, breeders, and trainers in the horse and dog industries wanted a combined study to show total economic impact in the wake of repeated suggestions racing is in decline and shouldn't receive its share of revenue from video lottery terminals and table games at the state's four tracks. They planned to hold a press conference at the state capitol Jan. 21 to discuss the study.

The study states that accounting for inflation, total pari-mutuel handle in the state dropped about 33% from 2004 to 2012, while purses earned from handle dropped 45% during the same period. It also shows that purse and breed development revenue derived from VLTs is down almost 30% since 2005.

"The economic impact of the racing industry estimated here represents an important portion of the West Virginia economy," the authors wrote. "But our estimate does not incorporate all potential sources of economic impact.

"Because of a low response rate on our jockey survey, the impact of jockey winnings is not taken into consideration. Also, operating expenditure data from the state's four racetracks was unavailable, and therefore we do not consider expenditures relating to the racetracks themselves, which may include employment, construction dollars, and operating costs that could potentially increase the impact of the industry."

The impact study outlines purse and breed development revenue per track for fiscal year 2013. VLTs and table games generated $31.1 million for purses and $10.8 million for breed development at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races; $19.4 million and $3.2 million at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort; $11.8 million and $1.8 million at Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino & Racetrack; and $6 million and $1.4 million at Mardi Gras Casino & Resort. The latter two are Greyhound tracks.

Some economic impact information in the study was based on the results of a survey mailed to about 3,100 racing stakeholders. The response rate was 8%, the study states.

The economic impact study is available here.