At a Senate Gaming Committee hearing in Tallahassee today, members of the Florida horse industry unveiled impressive new economic impact figures from a just released statewide study. A coalition of Florida horse racing and breeding organizations retained Cummings Associates to develop a comprehensive estimate of the economic impacts of the horse racing industry in Florida.
Major findings of the study unveiled today include:
• The horse racing industry supports more than 12,000 jobs statewide.
• The industry pays those workers more than $400 million in wages and benefits each year.
• The industry generates an annual economic impact of more than $900 million each year – a larger impact than spring training baseball in the state.
“The Thoroughbred horse industry is a major agri-business for Florida and has a historic and enormous positive economic impact that the state must continue to embrace,” said Lonny Powell, CEO of Florida Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners Association (FTBOA). “We must move beyond the status-quo for this industry in Florida where we risk losing ground to other states on jobs created and dollars invested. We ask the legislature to work with us in the pursuit of credible and forward-looking strategies to build this industry, to increase the global and local investment and to hire more workers.”
When measuring the economic impact Florida’s horse breeding industry ranks second in all of North America. Horse racing and breeding generates a wide range of jobs for those engaged in the care, feeding, training and transportation of horses; those engaged in racetrack operations serving the horses, horsemen and visitors and maintaining the pari-mutuel wagering industry; and those monitoring and regulating the industry in fees and tax collection.
Dedicated to growing the industry, the FTBOA is encouraged by their recent agreement with Gulfstream Park, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and Resorts World Omni/Genting. This agreement would include relocating an existing nonprofit Thoroughbred permit to Resorts World Omni which will help generate additional funds that would give an enormous boost to this historic industry in Florida.
The additional funds to the industry could be used in many ways, including to significantly increase Thoroughbred purses, greatly expand stakes and prize money for Florida–bred stakes races and winners, and provide a needed boost to Florida-bred awards and incentives – helping make the owning of a world renowned Florida horse farm, training center, horse or track even more attractive to local and global investment.
“The agreement proposed between Resorts World Omni/Genting and the industry is ground breaking for us and will provide great economic benefit to the state. It represents the potential to take Florida to the highest levels of racing, breeding and global investment with impact reaching from the beaches of south Florida all the way to the green-space and farm country of Marion County,” said Powell. “We commend the Florida Legislature for taking a close look at the gaming issue in our state. We strongly encourage them to take appropriate legislative action regarding this game changing agreement between the industry and Resorts World Omni/Genting.”
The agreement between the parties and nonprofit nature of the permit allows for a portion of the funds to be used to support the Retired Thoroughbred aftercare programs. Funds will also be made available to other participant related causes, such as such as care and insurance programs for stable area workers and disabled jockeys.