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Governor signs bill to help horse-racing industry

October 23, 2009 |  5:39 pm

California’s horse-racing industry is struggling to compete with expanding casinos and other betting alternatives, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he has signed a measure allowing horse track groups to take a larger cut from wagers to fix up their facilities and offer bigger purses.

Senate Bill 517 was backed by several race-related organizations, including the Los Angeles County Fair, Santa Anita Park and the Oak Tree Racing Assn.

The bill by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) allows a thoroughbred association or fair to increase the amount it deducts from horse-race wagering. It also provides the groups more flexibility to spend the money on improvements, including the purchase of tracks and training areas, and allows winnings that are more competitive with those offered in other states.

Legislative analysts estimate that a 5% increase in the amount taken out of wagers would generate $200 million annually for the horse-racing industry.

Florez said the bill "is about self-reliance, reinvesting in California for growth and protecting jobs for the future."

--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento