Georgia Republican Rep. Harry Geisinger announced Feb. 8 his filing of House Resolution 186, a constitutional amendment that would allow Georgia voters to decide whether to allow horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in their local municipality.
“As Georgians across the state continue to struggle to find employment, the legislature must look for new ways to bring much needed jobs to our state,” said Geisinger, who introduced a similar resolution during the 2009-2010 legislative session that failed to move forward. “Expanding our state’s horse industry is a simple way to do just that. The number of jobs created and revenue generated would give Georgia a much needed economic boost.”
HR 186 would require net revenues and proceeds generated by horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in Georgia to go into their own unique category of the state budget entitled “Pari-mutuel Wagering Proceeds.” The revenues from this budget category could only be used to supplement, not supplant, state funding for education grants, scholarships, or loans; voluntary pre-kindergarten programs; and trauma care services.
If the amendment is ratified by voters, Geisinger would introduce enabling legislation that would vest all control of horse racing with pari-mutuel wagering to the Georgia Horse Racing Commission. This commission would ensure that all pari-mutuel wagering is conducted in accordance with Georgia law at licensed racetrack and satellite facilities.
Currently, horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering are legal in 38 states. Combined, both contribute a total economic impact of $39 billion to the United States annually, according to reports.
“Major horse racing states like Kentucky, Maryland, New York, and Florida contain interconnected interstates that all pass through the state of Georgia,” Geisinger said. “New information suggests that as many as 170,000 horses already pass through Georgia over a 14-month period on their way to meets and races in Florida. This logistical situation puts Georgia in a unique position to become a major hub of the equine industry. With correctly timed horse meets and races, Georgia could attract the thousands of horses that already pass through the state while traveling from north to south.”
In 2009 Geisinger chaired the House Equine Industry Study Committee, which heard numerous testimonies from horsemen about the economic benefits Georgia would experience if horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering were legal.
Dr. Stephen Fisch, president of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, told the committee that each horse on a racetrack creates seven jobs. The average horse meet would have 800-1,000 horses, thus creating approximately 7,000 jobs per meet, he explained.
“The racetrack itself is the very tip of the iceberg as far as economic development is concerned,” Fisch said.
A link to HR 186 can be found by clicking here.
For more information about Georgia’s existing horse industry, visit: http://www.geepforgeorgia.com/