Not long ago, the horse-racing industry was operating on small purses in Ohio. With less prize money for winners, it was difficult to attract the best horses, leaving the sport and the agricultural industry that surrounds it struggling to remain afloat. With little incentive to invest in Ohio’s racing industry, the best breeders and horses were leaving Ohio to race elsewhere. This also meant that the many Ohioans who are fans of the sport would travel outside of the state to enjoy races and place bets on their favorite horses. Money was leaving Ohio that we desperately needed in our state.
In Ohio, we operate two main types of horse racing. There is thoroughbred racing, like the kind we see at the Kentucky Derby and other famous horse-racing events, and then there is standardbred, which is more prevalent at county fairs and smaller-scale racing events. Both types of racing occur at professional tracks across the state of Ohio for race fans to enjoy from spring to fall. The decline of the horse-racing industry hurt both types of racing in our state, but recent actions have turned things around for this important industry.
Since 2012, changes in state policy have allowed Ohio’s racetracks to utilize video lottery terminals (VLTs), bringing the “racino” concept to Ohio. Racinos have revitalized the horse-racing sport in Ohio, with VLTs attracting new patrons and new revenue to racetracks. This pumps more money into the racing industry, allowing tracks to offer larger prizes to race winners, drawing the best horses back to Ohio.
Currently, there are seven racinos operating in Ohio with VLTs. While none of these facilities are located in the 84th House District, this boom in the industry has a great effect on our community. In western Ohio, there are several families that are directly involved in the horse-racing industry. Additionally, standardbred racing is an important financial component of many of our county fairs, attracting fans from across the area. Horse racing greatly benefits our agriculture industry in a number of ways as well, including increased sales of grain and hay.
VLTs have revitalized the horse-racing industry in Ohio and the effects can be felt across the state, especially in western Ohio. As your state representative, I will continue to work toward state policies that allow industries, like horse racing, to thrive and encourage the growth of our economy.
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