California is a major participant in and a beneficiary of the California horse racing industry. Pari-mutuel wagering was in part originally supported by the electorate as a means to fund health, safety, and maintenance projects at California's state and local fairgrounds. Today, millions of dollars in horse racing revenue is annually distributed through the state to the Division of Fairs and Expositions within the Department of Food and Agriculture for the benefit of the County and Agricultural Fairs located throughout the State.
As one of California's oldest gambling industries, the horse racing industry has contributed billions in state licenses fees since its inception. Horse racing also has a longstanding record of service to the state and local communities through charitable contributions, creation of jobs, and through its contributions to tax revenue to both State and local government. However, in recent years horse racing has witnessed a steady decline in revenue, due to a variety of factors.
In 2004, California Horse Racing and a few California Card Clubs attempted to amend the States Constitution to allow for "banking games" and slot machines at certain California Race Tracks and Card Clubs. The measure failed by over 83.8% statewide. A Legislative Analysis of the act is below in related items.
In 2006, the Horseracing Industry began a push to introduce new video games which began anew a debate over whether or not these gaming devices potentially qualify as a slot machine. One track owner in particular, Frank Stronach from Canada, has been agressive in an attempt to expand "racinos" into California. (Click on file - Controversial Expansion Proposals)
The Horseracing Industry is stringently regulated by the California Horse Racing Board and the California Department of Justice. A concern according to "Gambling in the Golden State" page four: “Studies find that adults who bet on horse racing (both on and off-track) have the highest incidence of problem and pathological gambling of any gambling patrons. Fourteen percent are estimated to be problem gamblers and 25 percent are pathological gamblers.The California Horse Racing Board offers direct access to companies that facilitate betting on horse races through its state website.”