This is your state on Republican (and Lisa Boscola) budget priorities.
Rich horse-owners and their buddies rake in over $200 million a year in state subsidies while poor school children have to beg for donations of school supplies. Remember this next time your Republican state representative insists the state is “broke.” We’re not broke, we’re just blowing hundreds of millions of dollars on horseshit:
Yet, few might know that most of that money, as well as most of the purses that go to owners of winning horses, is not funded by people placing bets on horses. Rather, it’s funded by the tens of thousands of small-time Pennsylvania casino patrons who play — and lose at — slot machines. Thanks to a law written primarily by the horse-racing industry itself, slots players — many of whom are retired and elderly — are the primary funders of what some consider a massive corporate welfare program that props up the state’s horse-race industry, and often benefits rich horse owners.
In just six years, more than $1.5 billion has gone to horse owners, race-horse breeders and others in the industry, thanks to a little-known state subsidy that feeds 12 percent of casino slot revenues to the horse-race industry. Last year, slots pulled in $2.4 billion in revenue. While schools struggle, pension funds decline and the state’s roads and bridges crumble, many of the recipients of the horse-race subsidy are out-of-state multimillionaires. Some are billionaires several times over.
Last year’s total gift to the horse-racing industry: $225 million. That’s more than the budget for the Pennsylvania State Police ($195.2 million) or the Department of Health ($189.9 million) — and nearly twice that of the entire budget for the Department of Agriculture ($129.5 million).