Touting more progress made in Harrisburg this week on how to fix Pennsylvania's struggling horse-racing industry, the Wolf administration announced Friday that it had again postponed any decision to shut down tracks statewide.
Citing talks that contained "positive steps forward," Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding said in a statement that the Democratic administration had deferred any decision to suspend live racing until a House committee vote next week on a Senate bill that is designed to make sweeping changes to the waning industry, including how it is funded.
Russell's announcement came just one week after the Wolf administration said it had won concessions from legislators and horse-racing industry stakeholders, including racetrack operators.
The administration warned last month of a possible shutdown of live horse racing, saying the state could no longer afford to relieve the insolvent state racing fund, which pays for licensing, drug testing, and safety measures for horses.
In the last decade, the state has been forced to shoulder more of the cost as the industry has struggled and racing wagers have declined. The state racing fund was designed to be paid for with taxes on wagers.
But now, due to the state's budget impasse, officials could not transfer money to the fund. Wolf used the opportunity to push industry leaders to cover more of the costs.
A deal is needed to keep the state's six tracks open, including two in the Philadelphia area: Harrah's, in Chester, and Parx, in Bensalem.
"We'll keep working with the General Assembly in the coming days to put finishing touches on the bill so a long-term solution can be enacted in the very near future," Redding said in a statement.