Gambling

Massachusetts Accidentally Bans Horse Racing

Unless lawmakers fix their mistake, hundreds of people could be out of a job.

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James Thewlis/Dreamstime.com

Legislators in Massachusetts forgot to pass a bill to keep horse racing legal, and hundreds of people could be out of work as a result.

Last night was a late one for the state's lawmakers, who worked into the early hours of the morning before the end of this year's formal legislative session. But they did not address the imminent expiration of a law that kept live-and-simulcast horse racing legal through July 31.

Bill H.4809, an "emergency law" that essentially extends the expiring legislation, had already passed both houses of the state legislature. But lawmakers went home without taking up needed procedural votes on the bill, the Associated Press reports.

Horse racing is now technically banned in the state, and roughly 290 people employed in the industry could be out of work. "It looks like hundreds of peoples' jobs fell victim to the clock here," Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of the Suffolk Downs racetrack in Boston, tells WGBH. "Our options…seem pretty dire for now."

With the Massachusetts legislature adjourned for the year, the only short-term solution is for lawmakers to pass the bill during tomorrow's informal session.

NEXT: N.Y. Fair Vendors Have Nearby 7-Year-Old's Porch Lemonade Stand Shut Down

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  1. “Legislators in Massachusetts forgot to pass a bill to keep horse racing legal, and hundreds of people could be out of work as a result.”

    Man, I hate when I forget something like this.

  2. Go ahead and run the races. The rule of law says you don’t need no stinkin’ permission to conduct horse races.

  3. So they have expiring laws in Massachusetts, but the ones that expire keep people free? Isn’t that exactly backwards?

    1. I guess it’s an exception to a ban on gambling. I suppose you could legally race horses all day every day as long as no one bets on it.

    2. It’s all right there in white and black in the htP tnemdnemA.

  4. Well, old guys have memory problems,

  5. Horse racing is now technically banned in the state

    Horse racing or betting on horse races? I can’t see how Mass can possibly ban simulcasting horse racing from other states, there’s the Commerce Clause to consider. Not to mention the national network TV coverage of the Triple Crown races. Betting on the simulcast races is another matter.

  6. Maybe not make everything reliant on government permission. That might be a possible solution.

    1. You must be one of those “anarchists” I keep hearing about.

        1. An ‘eh…narchist’?

          Wants government to butt out but doesn’t care enough to actually do anything other than leave a cranky post on a libertarian web-zine comment board.

          LOL. On reflection, I just trolled myself…

    2. Check out the alt-right crazypants over here.

    3. Maybe I subscribe to Tuccille’s newsletter.

      1. Reason IS Tuccille’s newsletter. Everyone else is just posting comments.

  7. To be clear, horse racing in Massachusetts would be dead if the legislature didn’t give them simulcasting. The state lottery killed interest in live horse racing many years ago. And if jobs only exist because of a government-regulated gift, then should they go on? Should department stores get slots to save jobs because Amazon is killing their sales? A free market libertarian can’t love this cause.

    1. Does the legislature “give” them simulcasting, or did it allow them to simulcast. If simulcasting is what keeps the business alive, then there’s nothing wrong with that. That was a market-driven solution to a business that was going out of favor.

      That’s like NBC losing viewers, and the government “giving” them rights to stream on the internet in an attempt to keep eyeballs.

  8. Ya Boy and Howdy ! Gotta love living in a State that is controlled by the Lefties !

  9. OK, I don’t get it. Does this mean that Massachusettsians are only allowed to do things that are expressly permitted by law and are forbidden to do anything on which the law is silent?

    That seems to be the opposite of Anglo-American legal tradition as I understand it..

    1. OK, I’m kidding. I assume that the actual case is that there is already some kind of legislation on the books that prohibits all of the activities in question and that the legislation in question created an exception to that prohibition for certain connected establishments.

      If that is correct, then, “Ho Hum, I don’t care.”

      1. Does this mean that Massachusettsians are only allowed to do things that are expressly permitted by law and are forbidden to do anything on which the law is silent?

        That seems to be the opposite of Anglo-American legal tradition as I understand it..

        Pretty much. Mass., after all, was founded by the puritans who were trying to get away from the Anglo tradition of common law and replace it with the righteous law of God, or something like that.

        Some other things banned in Massachusetts or (were until recently)

        shopping on Sundays (most stores were closed on the sabbath until the late 1980s)
        fireworks
        blowjobs (giving or receiving-this was the law well into the 1990s)
        celebrating Christmas (legalized in 1870)
        Selling alcohol outside of a licensed package store or bar

        1. Ahyes. Good points all. 🙂

  10. I heard the horse laugh way over here in Idaho.

  11. Next year, they’ll forget to renew the law of gravity and will become Laputa.

  12. Illinois let the law on math expire, which explains their budgets

  13. Horse racing is now technically banned in the state

    *Technicaly* banned is the best kind of banned.

  14. Perhaps it’s more fun with cop cars chasing the horses down the racetrack.

  15. The problem with this story is that the two racetracks that operate in Massachusetts, Plainridge and Suffolk enjoy extremely generous purse subsidies from the casinos. Plainridge, for example, gives away nearly $70,000 dollars in purses per racing card, and doesn’t handle (take in anything from wagering) near that amount. Since there is no interest in horse racing to sustain purses outside of a few tracks, racetracks are subsidized in nearly every state where they operate.

    Bottomline: Don’t bemoan the fact that the government failed to reauthorized parimutuel wagering, they aren’t costing anyone jobs and are probably saving taxpayers money in the long run.

  16. The problem with this story is that the two racetracks that operate in Massachusetts, Plainridge and Suffolk enjoy extremely generous purse subsidies from the casinos. Plainridge, for example, gives away nearly $70,000 dollars in purses per racing card, and doesn’t handle (take in anything from wagering) near that amount. Since there is no interest in horse racing to sustain purses outside of a few tracks, racetracks are subsidized in nearly every state where they operate.

    Bottomline: Don’t bemoan the fact that the government failed to reauthorized parimutuel wagering, they aren’t costing anyone jobs and are probably saving taxpayers money in the long run.

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