Internet gambling hurts farmers
Each year, Pennsylvania's agriculture and horse racing industries pour billions of dollars into the state economy and support tens of thousands of jobs. These benefits enjoyed by so many Pennsylvanians are being threatened by state Senate Bill 900, which would allow for Internet gambling.
Since Pennsylvania expanded gaming in 2004, racetrack casinos have designated slots revenue to the Race Horse Development Fund, leading to important growth in our horse racing industry without relying on a single taxpayer dollar. That growth has benefited countless farmers, who sell materials necessary for horse racing. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, horse owners and trainers reinvested approximately 89 percent — that's $210 million — of money paid from the Race Horse Development Fund into their local economies.
As currently written, SB 900 would allow Internet gaming to bypass this fund. This would undo much of the progress made since 2004, when expanded gambling was designed to rescue Pennsylvania's horse racing industry.
A recent study published in the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Gaming Research and Review Journal found that Internet gambling cannibalizes commercial casino revenues by 27 to 30 percent. In Pennsylvania, this would have a devastating impact.
Pennsylvania got it right in 2004. We know this because Ohio and Maryland have used Pennsylvania's Race Horse Development Fund as a model for their states.
Internet gambling has its place, but it shouldn't hurt Pennsylvania farmers and working families.
East Hanover Township
The writer is president of the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.