About the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition

The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition is a statewide group representing more than 10,000 owners and trainers of the horseracing industry in Pennsylvania. Members of the coalition include: Meadows Standardbred Owners Association; Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association; Pennsylvania Horsebreeders Association; Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association; Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; and Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania. Formed in 2009, the coalition is committed to promoting and protecting the interests of horsemen, breeders and all equestrians alike throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Genesis of Casino Gaming in Pennsylvania

When the state was debating the legalization of casino gaming, horse breeders and owners expressed concern about the negative impact on horse wagering in Pennsylvania, which funds purses and breeders incentives. National studies indicate that when slot machines are introduced at racetracks, wagering at racetracks is reduced by nearly 40 percent. When the amount of money available for purses and breeders incentives is threatened by the introduction of slot machines, it discourages owners from making capital investments in their farms, it impacts the amount of money a buyer may pay for a Pennsylvania-bred horse and how many horses are bred in the state. Loss of horse wagering revenue results in less dollars invested in Pennsylvania, directly impacting hard-working Pennsylvanians who rely on this industry for their jobs. To offset these losses resulting from the introduction of slot machines, casino operators agreed to an assessment on their slots revenues that would be placed into a new fund – the Race Horse Development Fund.

Act 71: The Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act

The Racehorse Development Fund was created as a provision to Act 71: the Pennsylvania Racehorse Development and Gaming Act, which was passed on July 5, 2004. Originally introduced on February 3, 2003 entitled: “An Act Providing for the Duties of the Pennsylvania State Police Regarding Criminal History Background Reports for Persons Participating in Harness or Horse Racing.”, the act enhances live horse racing in the Commonwealth and positively supports programs intended to foster and promote horse breeding. Act 71 also protects Pennsylvanians through the regulation and policing of all gaming activities as well as providing significant revenue to support property tax relief, wage tax reduction and economic development opportunities. Along with the Racehorse Development Fund, the law also created the Gaming Fund, the Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund, the Property Tax Relief Fund and the Compulsive and Problem Gambling Treatment Fund, as well as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Benefits of Act 71 to Pennsylvania Horse Racing Industry

Since the passing of Act 71 in 2004, tremendous results have been seen throughout the state. According to the Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania horse racing industry generates $1.6 billion in annual economic activity, which represents a more than quadruple increase from the economic impact of the racing industry prior to the legislature’s passage of Act 71. The horse racing industry is responsible for the employment of more than 23,000 Pennsylvanians and Act 71 has provided $2.3 billion in property tax reduction since its passage. Horse racing also generates additional casino and state tax revenues. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s 2014 Annual Report, revenues from slot machines are 16 percent higher on race days than non-race days at state racetrack casinos. Pennsylvania’s Race Horse Development Fund has breathed new life into the state’s horse racing and breeding industries. Since its inception, other states like Maryland and Ohio have used it as a model when approving their own gaming legislation due to the success seen throughout Pennsylvania as a result of Act 71.