Horse racing study launched by legislature

The House approved and sent to the governor today a bill that tales a first step toward setting up a horse race gambling system in Tennessee.

The bill (SB1738) passed the Senate 24-2 on April 7 under sponsorship of Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. It was approved by the House today 50-32 with Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, as sponsor.

The measure sets up a seven-member “State Horse Racing Advisory Committee,” appointed by the governor, that must come up with its recommendations by July 1, 2018.

Horse race gambling was legalized years ago with a state Racing Commission named to oversee licensing and regulation – but no operations were ever established and the commission ceased to exist. In their comments, the sponsors said that one factor was that the state would get 5 percent of all proceeds – a figure they said was too high and discouraged people from investing in horse racing in Tennessee.

Niceley said in committee that he envisions small racing operations around the state at county fairs and the like as well as harness racing and steeplechase events.