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Racing-Related Funds Targeted in MD, PA

Legislation in two states would divert gaming funds to other sources.

Legislation that would divert gaming revenue for horse racing to other sources has been introduced in Maryland, and in Pennsylvania the governor has taken similar action in his 2012-13 state budget.

In Maryland, legislation introduced in the House Ways and Means Committee Feb. 1 would shift money from video lottery terminals at casinos to a new school construction fund. Under the VLT law, horse racing currently receives 7% of VLT revenue for purses and breed development and 2.5% for racetrack capital improvements.

The bill states that 9.5% of VLT revenue would go to a school construction account. It was introduced by 26 members of the Maryland House of Delegates.

Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, couldn't be immediately reached for comment Feb. 7.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported the Feb. 6 introduction of a measure that would expand gambling in Maryland to include table games and authorize a new casino in Prince George’s County, where Rosecroft Raceway is located.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett Feb. 7 proposed cuts in financial support for three major state-related universities, including Penn State. The college in a statement said there were no proposed reductions in agriculture research and related programs, but that "the governor’s budget proposes shifting the responsibility for funding these programs to the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund. The implications of this proposal are unclear at this time."

Pennsylvania horse racing officials indicated they haven't heard details of Corbett's plan, though tens of millions of dollars in funding for racing and breed development could be taken away.

An Indiana measure that would have reduced the amount horse racing and breeding receive from racetrack slot machines from 97% to 39.5%, with a cap of $27 million a year, was introduced in January but failed to be called for hearing. The other 57.5% would have shifted to the state’s general fund.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeff Espich, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, was introduced in his committee Jan. 9. No action on the measure was reported, and Indiana racing industry officials said they were told the bill is dead for the 2012 session.