The Senate today (June 27) unanimously approved legislation introduced by Sen. Elder Vogel that makes substantial regulatory changes necessary to protect and bolster Pennsylvania's horse racing industry.
Senate Bill 1188 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
"Basically, this legislation will bring the Race Horse Industry Reform Act into the 21st Century," said Senator Vogel, chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. "The act, which sets the parameters and guidelines for the oversight of the racing industries in Pennsylvania, has not been updated in over 20 years despite drastic changes in the way the industry is funded, raced and regulated."
The legislation makes a substantial and essential change in the state's oversight of the horse racing industry, said Vogel.
"Currently, the State Racing and Harness Racing Commissions are each comprised of three members as an administrative body under the Department of Agriculture. This bill dissolves both commissions," Vogel said. "This proposal re-establishes the function of regulatory oversight of the racing industry as a single independent commission."
Vogel said Senate Bill 1188 also addresses concerns raised by state Auditor General Eugene Pasquale regarding the State Racing Fund and the future of horse racing industry in Pennsylvania without significant and substantial regulatory changes.
"Since the inception of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act, we certainly have seen the economic benefits of our racing industries. Purses, racing days, employees and horses operating at our tracks have all increased. At the same time, the regulation of the industry has become more expensive and complex," Vogel said. "Unfortunately, the money actually wagered on our tracks for our horses has decreased. That has created problems since that money provides the funding for the enforcement of the RHIR. Senate Bill 1188 makes a number of changes to licensure, fines, fees and the pari-mutual tax structure to properly fund regulatory oversight and drug testing."