The Fall Steeplechase in Aiken is fast approaching, and with it comes a renewed effort to prioritize sports wagering in South Carolina. House Bill 3514, which passed the House Judiciary Committee, is set to be presented to the South Carolina Senate in January.
Frank Mullins, President of the Aiken Steeplechase Association, emphasized the current existence of sports wagering in the state, noting that a significant amount of money is being wagered without any regulation or benefit to the state. He stressed the need for proper regulation, as well as the potential financial implications for South Carolina.
Under the proposed Equine Advancement Act, South Carolina would implement an advance-deposit wagering system, requiring bettors to fund their accounts before placing bets. Bill Gutfarb, President of the Aiken Training Track, highlighted the potential benefits for the equine industry, including the creation of the Equine Industry Development Fund from commissions on advance-deposit wagering licenses.
The financial burden of maintaining racing facilities like the Aiken Training Track was also discussed, with Mullins underscoring the expense of upkeep. The potential impact of the legislation on retaining horses and attracting more trainers to South Carolina was emphasized as well.
To provide lawmakers with further insight, Mullins and Gutfarb visited the Virginia Gold Cup to demonstrate how advance-deposit wagering works. Their efforts to garner support for the legislation were evident as they encouraged individuals to engage with legislators and advocate for the bill’s passage.
The passing of the Equine Advancement Act would not only bring substantial benefits to the equine industry but also contribute to the regulation of sports wagering in South Carolina. Overall, the legislation is seen as a crucial step forward for the state’s racing and equine communities.