News Release: End Horse Racing’s $2.7 Billion Taxpayer-Funded Windfall

State government spends $800 million on taxpayer-funding giveaways to politically connected businesses each year. As lawmakers and Gov. Wolf debate ways to pay for the $32 billion spending plan passed last week, ending these wasteful subsidies must be at the top of their solutions list—and the horse racing industry’s massive windfall should be first to go.

Since 2006, state government has transferred an astonishing $2.7 billion of public money to the Race Horse Development Fund, which primarily funds prizes at race tracks.

“Ending these outrageous subsidies for horse racing should be the first step toward balancing the budget,” commented Nathan Benefield, vice president and COO for the Commonwealth Foundation. “Before considering any sort of tax increase, lawmakers should make sure existing revenue is spent on legitimate priorities.”

Under current law, the state will send $250 million from assessments on slot machines to the Race Horse Development Fund this year—nearly one-third of the state's $800 million in corporate welfare spending. A Tribune-Review analysis found the bulk of the fund’s prize money went to out-of-state horse owners, including at least $1 million to the multi-billionaire vice president of the United Arab Emirates.

Despite billions in subsidies, a Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board report shows the horse racing industry in decline

“State government has no business propping up the horse racing industry on the backs of taxpayers,” continued Benefield. “Lawmakers and Gov. Wolf must reduce unfair corporate welfare spending before asking Pennsylvanians for one dollar more.”

Nathan Benefield and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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