PA Senators Want Racing Regulation Overhauled

The two racing commissions would be dissolved; gaming commission would regulate.

Four Pennsylvania state senators are seeking support for legislation that would put regulatory oversight of horse racing under the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and make other changes in policy.

The lawmakers announced their intentions in an Oct. 15 memo. Sens. Elder Vogel, Dominic Pileggi, Joseph Scamati, and Robert Tomlinson said they hope to make changes to the Race Horse Industry Reform Act of 1981.

Pennsylvania has separate racing commissions for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing that fall under the state Department of Agriculture. There has been turmoil as well as reduced funding because of declines in pari-mutuel wagering.

The memo said the act "has not been updated in over 20 years despite dramatic changes in the way the game is funded, raced, and regulated." Pennsylvania in 2006 began opening casinos, some revenue from which is used to fund purses and breed development programs.

The senators said the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act has produced benefits for racing and breeding, but pari-mutuel handle, the only source of funding for regulation, has decreased.

"Our legislation would make a number of changes to licensure, fines, fee, and the pari-mutuel tax structure to properly fund regulatory oversight and drug testing," the lawmakers said in the memo.

Gaming revenue also funds health insurance and pension benefit programs for horsemen in Pennsylvania.