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Advance Deposit Wagering On Different Paths In South Carolina, Oregon

April 10, 2023
The U.S. horseracing industry has been in decline for decades, but legislative support remains strong to use advance deposit wagering tax proceeds to support horse breeders, owners and racetracks in states with a long history of thoroughbred and quarter horse races.


The U.S. horseracing industry has been in decline for decades, but legislative support remains strong to use advance deposit wagering (ADW) tax proceeds to support horse breeders, owners and racetracks in states with a long history of thoroughbred and quarter horse races.

But as a bill moves forward in South Carolina, an effort to end the ability of gamblers world-wide to wagering on dog races through an ADW hub in Oregon is threatening to eliminate the horseracing industry by 2029.

The Oregon House Committee on Gambling Regulation passed an amended version of House Bill 3514 that requires the state racing commission to investigate reports of multi-jurisdictional simulcasting and interactive wagering totalizator hub licensees that, in violation of statute, permit greyhound wagering accounts to be opened by individuals in states where greyhound racing is illegal.

The amendment approved by a 3-2 vote would eliminate the ability to accept or facilitate wagers on greyhound races held at courses in Mexico, and after July 1, 2029 a multi-jurisdiction simulcasting and interactive wagering totalizator hub licensee may not accept or facilitate wagers on greyhound racing.

Republican Representatives Kim Wallan and Boomer Wright, who is one of two committee vice chairs, voted against the measure and the bill.

Wallan admitted that her interpretation of the bill might be “extreme,” but reminded her colleagues that horseracing is dependent on the fees generated by these hubs.

“I’m afraid that if we do keep the ban on greyhound racing, there won’t be any funds for horseracing,” she said.

Representative John Lively, a Democrat and committee chairman, said Wallan was correct and ultimately it was up to whatever legislature is in charge at that time, which “would either have an obligation to make up that money or … it’s the end of horseracing in the state of Oregon.”

Wallan responded that she did not favor that approach.

“I just have a concern that by protecting one animal, we are doing it to the detriment of another,” Wright said. “That doesn’t seem to work for me.”

Prior to passage, Wallan again stressed that lawmakers “better get busy figuring out what we are going to do with horseracing.” The committee on Tuesday (April 4) passed the amended bill by a 3-2 vote sending it to the House floor for assignment to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

More than 2,836 miles to the southeast in Columbia, South Carolina, a controversial bill to legalize online wagering on horseracing to fund grants for the state’s equine industry was approve on Wednesday (April 5) in the House of Representatives.

House Bill 3514 was approved by a 55-44 vote and the legislation passed over the objections of Republicans who oppose gambling on moral grounds. The debate over the bill to legalize ADW took four-and-a-half hours, with some of the 124 members of the House simply not voting, while others had gone home.

“I think it is something that is very important,” said Representative Russell Ott, a Democrat and the bill’s primary sponsor. “We have the opportunity to take a small step forward toward saving this very proud industry.”

The bill would create the South Carolina Equine Commission, an appointed seven-member commission that would license three ADW operators to accept bets on horse races. The vendors would pay the commission a minimum of 10 percent of the projected yearly revenue they make from wagers in the state.

A legal ADW market in South Carolina could raise between $385,000 and $1.9m annually, according to a legislative forecast. Of the 10 percent paid annually, the commission would use up to 5 percent to cover their expenses with the other 5 percent going to grants to support the industry.

“We are losing out to states like Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware; states that are putting more into their equine industry,” said Republican Representative Jason Elliott.

Opposition to the bill was led by Republican John McCravy, arguing the measure was not about helping the horse industry, but simply “a pari-mutuel betting bill.”

He offered about 20 amendments as he urged his colleagues to “keep their ears open” as he explained what the bill was about.

“The bill legalizes mobile phone betting on any horse race in the United States,” McCravy said. “Mobile phone betting. Now this is not about South Carolina races. This is not about going to the racetrack and betting in South Carolina. This is about taking your phone and betting on races all over the U.S., probably internationally. I don’t know.”

The legislation was approved prior to the deadline for bills to “crossover” to the Senate during the 2023 session, but its fate remains unclear. Senate Bill 120, a similar version of HB 3514, was sent to the floor in February but has not been debated or voted on.

Ott’s proposal was referred on Thursday (April 6) to the Senate Committee on Family and Veterans’ Services.

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