Sun., 6:19pm: Ohio horse racing industry shows signs of comeback
DAYTON — Ohio’s horse racing industry is showing signs of rebounding.
Race horse breeding in Ohio is on the upswing after years of decline as gambling rules are allowing tracks to add slots-like gambling that will pump millions into the horse industry.
Some tracks are renovating to add the video terminal games while others are building new entirely tracks.
It all means more money for horse racing.
“We’re just seeing a glimmer of the future. It’s bright,” Bob Schmitz, chairman of the Ohio State Racing Commission told The Dayton Daily News.
The expansion of gambling is expected to bring $10 million a year from casino revenue taxes and an estimated $1 million a month from video lottery play for the horse industry.
The United States Trotting Association says the number of standardbred mares bred to Ohio stallions in 2012 more than doubled over the year before.
“Most of this is just anticipation, because there is only one harness track open as a racino,” said Jerry Knappenberger, general manager of the Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association. “For every horse, there’s a big financial multiplier. You need more products, hay and tack, more veterinarians, trainers and drivers.”
Ohio had been the top producer of standardbred horses in the nation, but the industry had been declining the past eight years after other states approved video gambling at tracks.
Horse breeder Scott Hagemeyer has 136 standardbred horses at his farm near Lebanon, more than he’s ever had in the past.
“Previously, we wondered what the future of the business would be,” he said. “I’m not only planning for today, I’m planning for the future.”
Tracks around the state also reported last year that attendance at harness racing events was up after slipping in recent years.
The American Horse Council has estimated that Ohio horse racing was once a $900 million agricultural-based industry that supported 25,000 jobs directly. It now employs over 12,000 people from stable hands to veterinarians.