Bill Aims To Bring Back Harness Racing In Florida

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on January 20, 2023
tracks pari-mutuel wagering thoroughbred horses

Democratic Rep. Dan Daley has filed a bill to revive harness racing and enhance pari-mutuel wagering in Florida. The sport met its fate last April when it was discontinued in the Sunshine State. 

Currently, there is no way operators can receive permits for harness racing. The bill, HB 275, would allow anyone who already holds a gaming permit- whether for greyhound racing, quarter-horse racing or jai alai games- to run harness races. In doing so, customers could, in theory, once again place bets on harness races. 

A summary of the bill states it:

“authorizes specified permitholders to elect to conduct live harness horse racing; authorizes Florida Gaming Control Commission to approve certain changes to operating dates.”

If passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor, the bill would go into effect on July 1, 2023. 

Third times a charm for pari-mutuel wagering bill

HB 275 is identical to HB 1269, legislation filed by Daley last year. In February, when speaking on HB 1269, Daley said:

“This bill simply gives existing permit holders the opportunity to offer Standardbred racing in this state.”

Unfortunately, the last two bills did not make it out of committee. 

Commitment to jobs

According to Floridapolitics, Daley says at least 15,000 jobs are at risk because of harness racing’s disappearance.

In a statement, Daley said:

“Thousands of families are counting on us to do what is right for Florida.”

Caesars Entertainment and its development partner, The Cordish Companies, announced the rebranding of Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park as Harrah’s Pompano Beach. 

Caesars closed Pompano Park, the last racing location, to redevelop the land with a 950-room hotel complete with an entertainment and retail district. Construction is underway and will include a 15,000-square-foot Florida casino expansion.

Although the casino development appears to be a lost cause, Daley is not going down without a fight.

“I’m not giving up on this industry,” he said.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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