Senate panel advances bill to update horse-racing laws

The state Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee advanced a bill on Tuesday that would make regulatory changes to nurture and modernize the state's horse-racing industry.

Sen. Elder Vogel (R-Dist. 47), the bill's primary sponsor and chairman of the committee, said the measure would update the regulations of the state's horse-racing industry, bringing them “into the 21st century.”

Under the bill, the separate commissions for thoroughbreds and harness racing under the Department of Agriculture would be combined into one oversight commission.

“The parameters and guidelines for the oversight of the racing industries in Pennsylvania have not been updated in over 20 years despite drastic changes in the way the industry is funded, raced and regulated,” Vogel said. “The Senate unanimously approved this measure last session, and hopefully we can take the next step and get it to the governor’s desk and enacted into law this year.”

Vogel said the state has seen benefits economically from the horse-racing industry, including more jobs created and bigger purses.

“At the same time, the regulation of the industry has become more expensive and complex,” Vogel said. “My bill makes a number of changes to licensure, fines, fees and the pari-mutuel tax structure to properly fund regulatory oversight and drug testing.”

The bill originally passed the Senate during the 2013-14 legislative session, but never got out of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

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Sen. Elder Vogel (R-47) 488 Adams St. Rochester, PA 15074

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