Edward G. Rendell
Former Pennsylvania Governor
Biography: The Honorable Edward G. Rendell served as the 45th Governor of Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2011. A fan of horse racing, Governor Ed Rendell championed the legalization of slots gaming in Pennsylvania as a means to help reinvigorate that state’s racing and breeding industry.
In 2004, Rendell signed into law Act 71, the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act. In the months leading up to the legislature’s approval of the law, Rendell worked closely with racing industry leaders. He was instrumental in negotiating an agreement with casino operators to allocate a portion of their gross terminal revenues from slot machines to the Race Horse Development Fund (RHDF). Under the legislation, those funds were dedicated to enhance live racing purses, to provide incentives for breeders and owners of Pennsylvania-Bred horses, and to provide pension and health benefits to Pennsylvania horsemen.
Act 71 has been widely credited with rejuvenating Pennsylvania’s horse racing and breeding industry. Thanks to the legislation championed by former Governor Rendell, two new racetracks were constructed in Pennsylvania – Presque Isle Downs and Harrah’s Philadelphia – while existing racetracks have invested more than $72 million in backstretch improvements. Purses earned have increased from $62 million in 2006 to more than $196 million in 2017, while the number of live races held annually have increased by more than 25 percent. Today, the Pennsylvania horse racing industry delivers an annual economic impact of more than $1.6 billion, employs 20,000 individuals, and is responsible for the preservation of well over 100,000 acres of open space.