Governor Wolf (D) Attempting to Terminate Horse-racing Subsidy

“Average daily attendance for the Williamsport Crosscutters minor league baseball team is greater than attendance at any of the state’s six horse tracks.”

A proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to redirect about $200 million a year in subsidies that currently go to the horse-racing industry has the backing of animal rights and school funding proponents, but faces stiff opposition from the horse-racing industry, the agricultural industry lobby and rural lawmakers.

Pennsylvania: racing handle drops by more than 10% in 2019Wolf first proposed shifting the horse-racing subsidy to other uses in 2020. In this year’s budget, unveiled in February, he repeated that call and suggested that the money should be used to fund scholarships for students to attend one of the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education.

“When you think about it, when you support a college student, that person’s going to live another 50 years and be a productive member of society,” said Sharon Ward, a former Wolf administration official who authored a report released on May 2020 examining the horse-racing fund. “These horses are around for three to four years and then they are gone.”

She called it a “bad use of tax dollars.”

That report noted that, despite the state subsidies, public interest in horse racing has been consistently waning.

“In 2018, the subsidy of $240 million was almost five times the amount wagered by Pennsylvanians on races run on Pennsylvania tracks,” that report found.

“Average daily attendance for the Williamsport Crosscutters minor league baseball team is greater than attendance at any of the state’s six horse tracks,” according to the report…