Off to the Races with Your Tax Dollars

Commentary & Community

Off to the Races with Your Tax Dollars


Would you pay to see dogs race?


If you’re a West Virginian, whether you watch it or not, you’re paying for it. The state gives $14 million in subsidies to the dog racing industry. Legislators passed a bill that would have ended this subsidy, as well as eliminated the mandate that two of the state’s casinos offer dog racing. The governor vetoed this bill, saying, “Eliminating support for the greyhounds is a job killer and I can’t sign it.”


West Virginia is not the only state that subsidizes the racing industry. States from New York to Ohio to Maryland provide subsidies to horse racing. These subsidies take different forms, but clearly many legislators think that it is important to give some form of government support to racing.


These horse racing subsidies also exist in Pennsylvania. Like West Virginia, there has been an effort this year to end state support for the industry. Some legislators are trying to kill the subsidy fund as part of a plan to deal with a budget deficit.


Also this year, a Louisiana legislator withdrew his bill that would have redirected horse racing subsidies to educational scholarships.


Supporters of subsidies say that they are necessary to help an industry that is struggling but still contributes to the state. Opponents say that these subsidies are little more than corporate welfare that is prolonging the life of an increasingly unpopular sport.


What do you think about subsidizing horse and dog racing? Are these subsidies a good use of tax dollars? Or should they be ended?


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