Georgia Lawmakers Hear Professionals and Cons of Legalizing Horse Racing


Posted on: February 21, 2022, 04:53h. 

Final up to date on: February 21, 2022, 01:20h.

A Georgia state senate committee on Thursday heard testimony on the impression – each financial and societal – introducing horse racing would have on the state.

Georgia Sen. Billy Hickman
Georgia state Sen. Billy Hickman speaks earlier than the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities Thursday in assist of legalizing horse racing within the state. (Picture: Georgia State Senate)

The Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities is at the moment contemplating a number of payments that decision for a constitutional modification to permit racing and pari-mutuel betting and decide how the game would function within the state.

Senate Invoice 30 would set up a Georgia Horse Racing Fee, and that regulatory physique can be empowered to award licenses for as many as three racetracks. The invoice additionally requires the tracks to be at the very least 125 miles aside from one another.

The minimal funding required for a monitor within the Atlanta space can be $250 million, whereas that threshold is $125 million elsewhere within the state. The purpose can be for every monitor to supply at the very least 60 racing days per 12 months.

In accordance with a examine by researchers at Georgia Southern College, legalizing horse racing would generate a virtually $1.3 billion financial impression and create 15,800 new jobs within the Peach State. That might additionally embody rural jobs as proponents see alternatives for horse farms and breeding operations as effectively.

State Sen. Billy Hickman, R-Statesboro, testified on behalf of the racing payments. Whereas solely a sponsor of Senate Decision 131, one of many constitutional amendments, Hickman is concerned within the breeding and racing enterprise. He instructed his colleagues that to ensure that racing to achieve the state, it has to make financial sense, and he discovered the Georgia Southern numbers to be “fairly astounding,” he mentioned.

No motion was taken by the committee on Thursday.

Historic Horse Racing Included in Invoice

Hickman additionally instructed the committee that whereas horse racing would work in Georgia, having a supplemental income would assist issues. SB30 consists of provisions to permit tracks to additionally supply historic horse racing (HHR), the slot-like sport that makes use of the result of earlier races to find out whether or not the bettor wins.

Kentucky racing and political leaders have pointed to the income HHR has generated for racing purses. Whereas the state has at all times been a hotbed for racing, the gaming machines have made the state’s tracks a gorgeous year-round marketplace for horsemen.

My private opinion is that we’d like another kind (of gaming) to get the standard horses right here, to get the Breeders’ Cup right here,” Hickman mentioned. “Now, I actually imagine that the parimutuel betting might survive by itself, however you wouldn’t have the standard of races that we’d need… We might need these services to be the most effective within the nation, additionally, and I feel you’ve received to produce other types of cash to complement the purses with a view to get us there.”

Opponents to gaming who spoke on the listening to seized on these feedback, saying that legalizing horse racing is simply an try to herald different types of gaming as effectively.

Mike Griffin, a spokesman for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, mentioned HHR parlors at different tracks throughout the nation are set as much as look no completely different than casinos.

“Right now, this pig has received lipstick on it, as a result of that is actually not about horse racing anymore,” he mentioned.

Georgia a Battleground State for Expanded Gaming

Georgia has been talked up lately as a state that’s more likely to tackle expanded gaming, and proponents aren’t simply taking a look at horse racing both.

Presently, solely the lottery and a few varieties of charitable gaming are allowed in Georgia, and the state’s lottery has been used to fund a scholarship program that has helped cowl greater schooling prices for greater than 2 million Georgia college students within the practically 30 years of its existence.

Lawmakers in Atlanta are additionally contemplating permitting on line casino resorts within the state and legalizing sports activities betting as effectively, with tax revenues going to complement funding for schooling.

Earlier this month, state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, mentioned the state Home would take into account a constitutional modification that may permit the Georgia Lottery to run sports activities betting within the state.

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