Horse racing subsidies to keep Preakness not worth the debt

Originally published in the Baltimore Sun

Carol Park Oct 2, 2020

As Maryland prepares for the 145th Preakness on Saturday amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s thoroughbred racetracks are also getting ready for some extravagant overhauls in the years ahead. That’s because earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Racing and Community Development Act (RCDA)— a wasteful horse racing subsidy bill masked as a clever economic development scheme.

Unfortunately, the only thing likely to grow when this “economic growth” plan is implemented is the size of Maryland’s debt. The legislation authorizes the state to issue $375 million in 30-year bonds to rebuild Maryland’s two dilapidated horse racetracks: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County. Both tracks, currently owned by the Stronach Group, a Canadian company, will be transferred to each local government or to the Maryland Stadium Authority, thereby shifting all financial risks of the project to the state.


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