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Massachusetts Legislators Keep Racing Fund Intact

Massachusetts Legislators Keep Racing Fund IntactMassachusetts horsemen achieved a major victory July 7 when state lawmakers reached compromise on the $40-billion 2018 budget bill that eliminates $400 million in spending yet leaves intact a significant portion of the money in the Race Horse Development Fund. Owners, breeders, and industry stakeholders appeared to be in peril of losing $13 million in the short-term to help balance the budget by redirecting the money to state parks and conservation efforts. In the long-term, the existence of the RHDF was at risk.
 
The RHDF was established in the 2011 expanded gaming legislation to help the Massachusetts' struggling horse racing industry and is fueled by a percentage of the profits from the state's burgeoning casino industry.
 
With close to $37 million collected from inception through June 15, the RHDF came under attack from legislators and private citizens who believed the money would be better spent elsewhere than divided between the Thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen, with 80% directed to purses, 16% allocated to breeders, and 4% given to backside welfare.
 
"I think we made the economic argument that the (RHDF) money is necessary to either fund the (proposed new Thoroughbred) horse park and all of the promise of employment that it has, or to back up the agricultural community that depends upon that money in parts of the state, and that it is in fact a good investment," said Brian Hickey, the lobbyist for the New England affiliate of the Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association.
 

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