"We are a vital part of a great industry, and if we go out of state, the legislature is simply trading off our green land and rural agricultural communities to increase gaming interests and revenue in the state," Gregg
said.(Camp Hill, PA) -- An allocation of two percent of slot machine revenue to Pennsylvania's standardbred breeders amounts to about $7.2 million per year divided by more than 1,000 breeders across the state on average, Wayne Gregg, president of Eicarl's Stables, in Pittsburgh, and a director of the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania (SBAP), said today.
"This amount wouldn't make much of a dent in our hay bill," Gregg
, a breeder for nearly two decades, said jokingly.
But Gregg knows that slot machine revenue isn't a joking matter to more than 1,000 standardbred breeders across Pennsylvania.
Gregg's state association has been working to build awareness of the fact that Pennsylvania harness racing horse breeders are slowly going out of business and the current focus on licensing slot machines at the state's two harness tracks will probably be the last chance for Pennsylvania to reverse the trend.
"We were once the Keystone of harness racing in the northeast," Gregg
says, "but we lost the competitive edge when our neighboring states used slot machine revenue to boost their harness purses and breeder award programs."
"A number of PA breeders have been going out of business or moving their operations out of state to take advantage of the more favorable economics elsewhere," Gregg
"Our land is worth at least ten times present value if we develop it," Gregg
One objective of the Tomlinson bill is to support the faltering Pennsylvania racing industry, but Gregg
says the support is too little, too late for the harness breeders in the state.
"We are the backbone of the harness racing industry," he
says."We are a vital part of a great industry, and if we go out of state, the legislature is simply trading off our green land and rural agricultural communities to increase gaming interests and revenue in the state."
"It's that simple in my book." Gregg
is careful to say that he
and the SBAP
support the Tomlinson bill in principal, even as they watched the breeder percentage of revenue disappear while track owner percentages continue to grow.
"I want a healthy, vibrant industry," Gregg
says, "but it won't happen this way.Right now, this formula just boosts racinos, not horse racing."
"We need to get to around 4% in SB 20 for the numbers to make sense to us," he
and SBAP estimate that at around 4%, the return is great enough to trigger investment in PA farmland, and an immediate increase in breeding operations in the state.
"With a little luck at the harness races, I think you will see another 50,000 acres of prime PA land reclaimed for breeding farms, and I think we can reasonably turn that 4% into something like a 10% bump in jobs, and increased revenue to our rural communities," Gregg
Most recent polls show rural voter support of licensing slot machines at racetracks at about 50-50; while approximately 70-30 statewide favor the bill.
"We are asking all our representatives and senators across the state to think long and hard about the Tomlinson bill," Gregg