HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s racing industry has benefited from the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding said recently, citing an increase in the value of the equine industry and the creation of thousands of jobs during a presentation to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Gov. Edward G. Rendell signed Act 71 in 2004, adding gaming to the state’s racetracks and directing a portion of gaming revenue to enhance live horse racing and breeding programs, which boosted the annual value of the equine industry by $3.4 billion and added more than 44,000 equine-related jobs.
“Pennsylvania has gained national recognition for its quality horse and harness racing thanks to the support provided by Act 71,” said Redding. “The addition of gaming at racetracks has exponentially increased purses paid to winning horses, allowing us to attract prestigious competitors and grow Pennsylvania’s racing industry.”
Since slots gaming began in 2006, nearly $700 million in purses has been awarded to top competitors at Pennsylvania racetracks. Purses in Pennsylvania for harness racing in 2009 were $108 million and each of the three harness tracks rank among the top seven in North America for purse payments.
In 2009, thoroughbred racing purses in Pennsylvania topped $116 million, an increase of $64 million since 2006. Increased purses and an injection of revenue into the Standardbred, Sire Stakes and Thoroughbred breeding funds increased the number of Pennsylvania-bred horses by 10 percent, while North America experienced a 12 percent decline.
Breeding fund awards are distributed to the breeders of winning Pennsylvania-bred and Pennsylvania-sired horses. Act 71 also encouraged investment in new farms, breeding stock, equipment, veterinary services and agricultural production, strengthening Pennsylvania’s agricultural community, added Redding.
Gaming Control board chairman Greg Fajt said the partnership between horse racetracks and casinos has been a win-win for all.
“It is always important to remember that if not for horse racing, we would not have legalized casino gaming in Pennsylvania,” Fajt said.
“In kind, the evidence is clear that the success of legalized slot machine and table gaming has reinvigorated the horse racing industry and had a positive effect on Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry.”
In addition to its work to raise the profile of racing in Pennsylvania, the Rendell administration has launched a multi-faceted marketing campaign at www.trackpackpa.com and through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
The innovative outreach effort encourages new fans to experience the distinctive entertainment that racetracks have to offer.
For more information, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us, click on “Bureaus Commissions and Councils” and select “Pennsylvania Racing Commission.”