Recent funding cuts by the Arizona Legislature could bring the end of live horse racing in the state by early next year.
AZCentral.com reports that the Arizona Department of Gaming is already feeling the effects of legislative budget cuts, and has been forced to layoff some employees. The Division of Racing treasury is expected to be depleted by March.
Kristian Fasching, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Gaming, told AZCentral that if that should happen, both Turf Paradise and Rillito would likely be shut down.
“We were blindsided by this,” Fasching said.
Under Arizona law, the Division of Racing is in place to monitor horses, jockeys and wagering to “ensure the sport's integrity and safety.” Should the Div. of Racing run out of funds and close, racing would also come to a halt, since there wouldn't be any agency oversight. The agency is not supported by taxpayers, nor is it covered by Arizona's general fund; instead, it gets its financing from a percentage of betting proceeds.
According to AZCentral, in 2016, the Division of Racing's budget totaled $2.9 million. This year, due to the cuts, the agency's current available funds have dropped to about $1.5 million. The agency is projected to be out of money by March.
“This is essentially a 50 percent reduction to the racing budget,” division Director Rudy Casillas told State Racing Commission members during a recent meeting.
“We have a structural deficit. There is no way, from my estimation, that we can get through the rest of the fiscal year.”
Read more at AZCentral.com
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