Courtesy By Harry Geisinger; www.ajc.com
This year’s “world series of horse racing” — The Breeder’s Cup — was worth $53.3 million to local businesses, 1.2 million viewers to ESPN and paid out $25.5 million in purses over 15 races.
And all of that benefited Louisville, Ky.
These millions of dollars and millions of viewers can belong to Georgia instead of Kentucky. Here’s how to do it:
During this year’s session, I introduced a constitutional amendment (HR186) to allow for horse racing with pari-mutuel wagering. If passed, the voters would cast their ballots on the amendment in the Nov. 6, 2012, general election.
Let’s get the “gambling” issue out of the way. This amendment does not allow for casinos, dog racing, slot machines or Elvis wedding chapels. All of that can stay in Vegas. So what makes pari-mutuel wagering different from gambling?
In simple terms, when you gamble, you are betting against the “house,” and the odds are stacked against you. With pari-mutuel, you are betting against the other bettors in each race. If you bet $1 on a horse, the “track” will take 18 cents to operate the track, pay taxes, purses to the horses and other overhead, while you share 82 cents with each of the other bettors. That is the “mutual” part of pari-mutuel wagering.
Georgians with an interest in horses have worked diligently to raise the profile of the equine sport of racing and the financial benefits of pari-mutuel wagering.
In a 2009 poll of more than 1,300 registered voters, more than 65 percent of Georgians favored horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering. When compared to states that race and raise horses, Georgia could gain at least 10,000 jobs in the first three to five years after passage of the amendment.
With more than 10.2 percent of Georgians out of work, labor-intensive industries such as horse breeding, training and racing would create urban and agricultural jobs.
However, HR186 must first pass both the House and Senate by a two-thirds vote. At this time, the vote appears to be close. If you like the idea of tourists’ dollars, jobs and tax dollars for Georgia, please let your local representatives and senators know to support HR186, the horse racing amendment.
When the general assembly looks to meet our projected shortfall, estimated to be hundreds of millions in 2012, the decision to support horse racing is a no-brainer.
We must let the people vote, and let the horses run.
State Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Roswell, represents District 48.