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  • Frank Mullins

The Post & Courier: Commentary: SC Senate Should Vote for Horse Industry

South Carolina’s once-thriving horse industry, with origins dating back to the 1700s, is rapidly declining, and everyone from local farmers to small business owners who rely on the industry and its associated tourism are being impacted.

Our state senators are poised to consider special order for a bill that would breathe new life into the industry by allowing for advance deposit wagering on horse races, which in return would establish a fund to support our rural, local economies and protect our equine heritage. The bill, the S.C. Equine Advancement Act, stems from a recent study committee established to examine the state of the equine industry and its long-term viability in the state.

The committee concluded that intervention is necessary for our state’s equine industry to survive in today’s environment. It found the state’s once-thriving industry is rapidly declining, and these downward trends are affecting the Palmetto State’s rural communities. To prime the economic pump, South Carolina legislators drafted the S.C. Equine Advancement Act to inject necessary funding into the horse industry through a new grant program that will be established by the bill and funded through a portion of the advance deposit wagering collected by the state.

Advance deposit wagering has shown to be the single-most important source of revenue growth nationwide that has generated additional dollars for the entire horse industry and its supporting agribusinesses. The platform is secure and would allow users to place wagers through a mobile app determined by a state commission. Participants would have to pre-deposit funds before being able to place a wager, which would ensure a safe and secure platform.

The bill offers an opportunity to regulate the already-occurring wagering, capture revenue from its activities and keep that revenue in our state and rural communities. A majority of South Carolina voters believe that a portion of this grant funding should funnel back to nonprofits to keep their doors open.

The S.C. Equine Advancement Act was designed for South Carolina, and its provisions to benefit the horse industry do not exist anywhere else. This solution is a testament to what our legislators set out to accomplish when they drafted this bill. They did not look to pad their budget like our neighboring states but rather to find a solution to one of the most important challenges facing rural communities in the Palmetto State.

This legislation is a step in the right direction to keep South Carolina dollars in the state and protect our rural communities.

It’s time for South Carolina to take a step in the right direction to save our historic industry by passing the S.C. Equine Advancement Act. Please join me in urging our state senators to support this bill by placing it on special order and taking a vote on it this year for our horse industry, agribusinesses and rural communities.


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