Georgia Resolution Would Authorize Vote on Racing

A resolution to authorize a constitutional amendment on pari-mutuel horse racing and simulcasting has been introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives. The measure also calls for approval by municipalities or counties.

If approved, a ballot question would ask voters to approve or disapprove a plan to authorize the General Assembly to provide by law "pari-mutuel wagering at horsetracks and telecommunications outlets," and for regulation of tracks and outlets. Should the measure pass, local referendums would then be held should tracks be proposed for certain municipalities or counties.

The Georgia Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association is quite active with a stallion auction and stakes sponsorships in Florida. Proposals for racing in the state have come and gone, with the city of Atlanta, because of its population, a focal point.

A few years ago, Magna Entertainment chairman Frank Stronach floated plans for a major racetrack in the Atlanta area.

Steve Sansone, a bloodstock agent and president of Long Grove Stables, said a budget deficit and pressure from neighboring states that may approve lotteries or expand gaming have made the time ripe to pursue pari-mutuel horse racing. Sansone has been involved in the effort.

"It has been proposed as a revenue-producer," Sansone said. "I think it would be a great enhancement to the state, but it's going to take a huge effort."

Georgia borders Florida, a major racing center, and Alabama, which offers only Greyhound racing. (Thoroughbred racing was held in Birmingham, Ala., years ago, and there has been talk it could return should alternative gaming be approved by the legislature.) The other states that border Georgia--North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee--do not offer pari-mutuel wagering.