The political parasites have feasted on the body of racing for long enough. Decades ago, horse racing became the “taxed sport” because, as a corporate body, racing operations wanted to show their willingness to benefit the general public in the form of taxes to the federal, state, and local governments.
The tracks and racing associations did this, at least in part, to insulate the sport from the religious zealotry that caused racing (actually betting on racing but it amounted to the same thing) to be banned in New York and other states a century ago, causing an economic collapse of racing and breeding far greater than any of us have seen.
In return for being the only sport that is taxed, racing also earned the privilege of being the only medium of legal wagering in nearly all of North America.
That privilege began to fall apart big time 20-some years ago, as states caught between deficits and the tax idiocy of Reaganomics looked for ways to grab dollars and balance their budgets. They found them time and time again in lotteries, in alternative gaming, and in full-sized casinos.
The result of all the budget scrambling put the states in direct competition with a sport they were regulating and taxing and supposed to be allowing a beneficial status. How quickly they forget when a buck is involved!
One of the worst offenders in this regard was New Jersey, which once had a thriving set of racetracks and yet chose to ignore the hundreds of millions of dollars taxed out of the sport so that the money-grubbing political hacks could slide down the well-greased slope to greater greed.
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority now appears ready to abandon horse racing because “the losses of the casino industry means it can’t continue to subsidize another industry,” according to a story from yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer.
Of course the casino industry can’t. I propose something entirely different.
Since the casinos and lotteries have become the big pigs at the trough, so fat and happy and closely allied with charitable politicians looking to do themselves a favor, I believe horse racing should give them our tax burden.
That’s only fair.
Since casinos and state lotteries and associated games of chance have the privileged spot in the hearts of the political gods like New Jersey Governor Christie and Kentucky’s own BlackJack Williams, then those “special businesses” can tote the freight.
Without the unnecessary burden of 12 to 14 percent take on wagers that goes straight to the gub’mint, horse racing would not exactly be floating high, but the sport wouldn’t be taking in water fore and aft.
And no, I’m asking them to take it. Any reasonable court would grant us relief from invidious competition and corrupt regulation. But now is the time to set to work.