State Representative Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell) announced today his filing of House Resolution 186, a constitutional amendment that would allow Georgia voters to decide whether or not to allow horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in their local municipality. This legislation is similar to HR 1177 from the 2009-10 legislative term, also introduced by Rep. Geisinger.
“As Georgians across the state continue to struggle to find employment, the legislature must look for new ways to bring much needed jobs to our state,” said Representative Harry Geisinger. “Expanding our state’s horse industry is a simple way to do just that. The number of jobs created and revenue generated would give Georgia a much needed economic boost.”
HR 186 would require net revenues and proceeds generated by horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering in Georgia to go into their own unique category of the state budget entitled “Pari-mutuel Wagering Proceeds.” The revenues from this budget category could only be used to supplement, not supplant, state funding for: 1) education grants, scholarships, or loans; 2) voluntary prekindergarten programs; and 3) trauma care services.
If the amendment is ratified by voters, Rep. Geisinger would introduce enabling legislation that would vest all control of horse racing with pari-mutuel wagering to the Georgia Horse Racing Commission. This Commission would ensure that all pari-mutuel wagering is conducted in accordance with Georgia law at licensed horse racetrack and satellite facilities.
Currently, horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering are legal in 38 states. Combined, both contribute a total economic impact of $39 billion to the United States annually.
“Major horse racing states like Kentucky, Maryland, New York and Florida contain interconnected interstates that all pass through the state of Georgia,” added Rep. Geisinger. “New information suggests that as many as 170,000 plus horses already pass through Georgia over a 14 month period on their way to meets and races in Florida. This logistical situation puts Georgia in a unique position to become a major hub of the equine industry. With correctly timed horse meets and races, Georgia could attract the thousands of horses that already pass through the state while traveling from north to south.”
In 2009 Rep. Geisinger chaired the House Equine Industry Study Committee. This committee heard from numerous experts who testified to the economic benefits that Georgia would experience if horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering were legal.
Dr. Fisch, President of the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association, explained that each horse on a racetrack creates seven jobs. The average horse meet will have at least 800-1,000 horses, thus creating approximately 7,000 jobs per meet. Some of these jobs necessary for each horse include trainers, grooms, jockeys, drivers, riders, and veterinarians. Other employment expansion would also include racetrack employees and support for industries such as hotels and restaurants.
“The racetrack itself is the very tip of the iceberg as far as economic development is concerned,” said Dr. Stephen Fisch during one of the study committee meetings.
A link to HR 186 can be found by clicking here.
For more information on the economic impact of the horse industry please visit: http://www.horsecouncil.org/nationaleconomics.php. For specific information about Georgia’s existing horse industry please visit: http://www.geepforgeorgia.com/
Representative Harry Geisinger represents the citizens of District 48, which includes portions of Fulton County. He was first elected into the House of Representatives in 1968-1974, and was then was sworn in again in 2005. He currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee. He also serves on the Children &Youth, MARTOC, Natural Resources & Environment, and Transportation committees.