$200M purse from horse racing in Jefferson County

A recent study completed by the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics argues that expanding horse racing would have a positive impact on Jefferson County’s economy. The study concluded thoroughbred racing contributed $191 million to the county in 2010.

  CHARLES TOWN — The chief of the area’s horsemens’ association says a new study demonstrates horse racing provides a significant impact to Jefferson County’s economy.

   Thoroughbred racing at Charles Town Races had an economic impact to the tune of $191 million, according to a study completed by Tom Witt, professor at WVU College of Business and Economics and authorized by the Charles Town Horsemens’ Benevolent and Protective Association and the West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

HBPA President Ken Lowe it is imperative that the Charles Town Races continue with yearlong live racing, and that more racing days at Charles Town could lead to more thoroughbred horse breeding in Jefferson County.

Lowe said when a business, in this case horse racing, has a viable source like farmers for purchasing grain, hay and all the things needed to keep horses, it’s a win-win scenario.

“Without horse racing you wouldn’t have all that,” Lowe said, adding horse racing has a long and storied history in Jefferson County. “Horse racing in Jefferson County goes back to the Washington family. They used to race horses right down the center of town.”

Indeed, according to the study, new farms or operations would have a beneficial impact to the county’s economy.

“Estimates indicate that the construction of new competitive thoroughbred horse breeding farm-operations would have created an economic impact of $4.4 million in business volume in 2010,” Witt reported.

He said the impact of the expenditures on the state economy is $36.3 million in employee compensation, and $1.9 in assorted state taxes.

“The impact is even larger totaling $210.4 million in business volume,” Witt said.

Total handle distributions, which include allocations to state and local governments, pension plans, and associations, accounted for an economic impact of $63.1 million in business volume, according to the study.

“This economic activity would have created over 20 jobs and $660,000 in employee compensation and been responsible for approximately $37,000 of assorted state taxes,” Witt said

Witt said the figures are conservative and do not include the operational impacts of the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, nor do they include the money visitors spend on racing, concessions, hotel rooms, restaurants and gasoline.

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