Pennsylvania Poll Shows Residents Want Casino Revenues for Education Not Horse Racing

When it comes to casino gambling, operators are supposed to pay a certain tax rate on earnings based on location. The funds paid are then split up and used for education, senior assistance, and a host of other service needs. Each state has the ability to choose how funds will be spent. In Pennsylvania, a portion of tax revenue is used for horse racing support, and residents do not feel this is how the money should be spent, according to a recent poll conducted.

No More Horse Race Support

Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Opinion Research reported that 83% of those surveyed felt like the subsidy provided to the horse racing industry should be used for other purposes. Only a small 10% of those involved in the survey said that the money should continue as normal.

Casinos in the state must pay a high 54% tax on gross gaming revenues from slot machines. An 11% portion of that money goes to the Horse Race Development Fund in the state. The money is used for breeder incentives, race purse needs, enforcement of regulations, and drug testing.

With the 15 commercial casinos in the state, the horse race industry receives almost a quarter of a billion dollars each year. The new poll shows that most people in the state do not feel that the industry needs this money.

Education Voters of Pennsylvania executive director Susan Spicka stated that it seems there is little support for taxpayer-funded horse racing. There are other pressing needs, and it seems hard to justify the program continuing as-is.

In the survey, individuals were asked if the money should be used for scholarship needs and 82% were in favor of the change. A small 14% were against the idea.

Flawed Survey

The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition says that the survey was flawed. Pete Peterson, a member of the coalition says that residents want to keep supporting the industry. He says that from experience, he knows that third-party groups can pay the survey company to ask questions in its poll and he feels that is what happened in this case.

Apparently, Peterson feels that the questions asked in this survey were loaded in such a way as to skew the view of horse racing. However, the poll is not the only show of support for a change in how casino tax payments are spent.

Governor Tom Wolf also wants to see the industry stop supporting horse racing. The governor wants to use the $250 million that the industry receives each year and create a new state college tuition program. The college funds would go towards individuals who are seeking a degree in education or health care.

The proposal by the governor would provide scholarships to undergraduate students who are enrolled at universities in the state that come from a family with a household income of $104,800 or less. When the student graduates, the individual must remain in the state for as many years as they were able to receive financial help in order to avoid the grant turning into a low-interest loan.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.