April 28, 2016
Jeremy Balan, Blood-Horse

A bill that would legalize online poker, and send $60 million a year in subsidies to the horse racing industry in California, passed unanimously through a state assembly committee April 27.

By a vote of 19-0, AB 2863 was approved by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, and next will have to pass through the assembly’s Appropriations Committee before being sent for a vote to the full assembly.

According to the bill’s text, 95% of the $60 million would be distributed to the California Horse Racing Board and 5% to the Fair and Exposition Fund. Within the CHRB distribution, portions would go to a “retirement plan for California-licensed jockeys,” to “provide health and welfare benefits for California-licensed jockeys,” and to “supplement the pension plan for pari-mutuel employees.” The majority would go toward racing purses.

“After countless revisions and meetings with stakeholders and consumer advocates, there remained two key issues raised by opponents: horse racing and suitability,” Assemblymember Adam Gray said in a statement. “Today, we put forward language that settles the horse racing component, and negotiations over suitability continue.”