Addresses Delivered at NASRC: James E. Dooley, Daily Racing Form, 1954-06-23


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! , . . Addresses Delivered at NASRC James E. Dooley James E. Dooley is president of Narra-gansett Park and a past president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of the United States, for which organization he spoke at yesterdays NASRC session. In considering what subject to discuss during the short time allotted, it occurred to me that I could talk about racing and legislation, legislation, a a question question legislation, legislation, a a question question with which I am fairly familiar through my experiences as chairman of" the legislative committee of TRA. Under the direction and supervision of Spencer J. Drayton, executive secretary of TRA, a close watch is kept on all proposed acts of Congress which might affect racing. Congress Congress and and its its corn- Congress Congress and and its its corn- committees are provided with facts and figures and kept informed on the problems of racing in an endeavor to prevent the adoption of unfavorable legislation. I am glad to have the opportunity to appear before your organization representing, as you do, a most important phase of racing. I like to think of racing as a sport that occupies a position of eminence in the world of sports that has confidence in itself and a boundless faith in its future. I want to feel that racing is an important contribution not only to the economy of our great country, but to the happiness of mankind. I know of no more appropriate place to relieve my mind of certain disturbing factors which have been bothering me for quite a while. Frankly, it is just this. "Does racing as a sport or business receive the same consideration as other sports or amusements in Congressional and i legislative circles?" No Apologies Needed for Sport I am one of those who believe that we should make no apologies for racing. We are legalized. The states in most instances are our partners. In many states racing has been j approved by the people at a referendum vote. [ I We are unquestionably Americas foremost I spectator sport. We are the largest taxpayer in many of the states. In my own state of Rhode Island, in 1953 the two race tracks paid the state of Rhode Island over $.7,000,000, about 12 per cent of the states annual income from all sources. We contribute more generously to charity than any other sport or amusement. We are better policed and freer from corruption or scandals than any sport. From the standpoint of attendance and participation, v/e can boast of greater public acceptance than any other sport. And yet amidst this record of progress and public acceptance, we still hear the voice of criticism and objection. You recall a few years back what was being said. Racing was a bubble, it could not last, it would soon burst of its own weakness. The popularity of racing proves them so wrong. These prophets of disaster aimed their poisoned shafts at racing, hoping they would take root in the public mind and kill us off, just as some of them are doing today. With such an array of favorable advantages, should we not be considered on a par with any sport or amusement? I say we should. Let me give you a few concrete examples of what disturbs me. Discussed Proposed Federal Tax Periodically for the past several years, certain members of the Ways and Means Committee of the national House of Representatives have proposed a 5 per cent federal tax on pari-mutuel wagering. You can readily visualize what could happen to racing, to the revenue of the states, and to those beneficiaries, in the states of the pari-mutuel tax, if a 5 per cent federal pari-mutuel tax were added to the existing state tax now ranging from 12 per cent to 15 per cent. It could be a death blow to racing. The point of diminishing returns would surely be exceeded. I am not so sure that the thought behind some of these proposals is to tax racing out of existence. This year, Mr. Drayton provided the committee with enough facts, information and sound argument to convince a majority of them that the proposed tax was undesirable and should not be included in the bill. We were told, however, by several members of the House of Representatives, many of them from states where racing is legal- | Dooleys NASRC Address Continued from Page Five ized and friends of racing, that if the tax bill was reported out of committee with the 5 per cent federal pari-mutuel tax included, it would be impossible to prevent its passage by the House. In other words, no matter how just our cause or what arguments existed in our favor, those who recognized the fairness of our position would not vote against the tax because their action might be construed as an indication of their friendliness toward racing. Isnt that something for us to think about? Shouldnt we ask ourselves the question, "What are we going to do about it?" I was very much interested in a portion of the address of the honorable George M. Humphrey, Secretary of the Treasury, delivered at the annual dinner of the TRA in New York last December. Speaking of racing he said, and I quote.. "It is truly big sport, arid it is truly big business. It has long been the sport of kings, and it still continues to be, in the sense that in this great free land of ours, every man is a king in his own right. To choose [ for himself how he will live, how he will [worship and what he will do for his own pleasure and enjoyment. It is an old adage that All men are equal on and under the turf, and racing is conducted in America on that basis with its wide appeal to the interests of all. It is enjoyed and participated in both by our leaders in industry and government, as well as by millions of other good honest Americans who find relaxation, health and happiness in the sport." Apparently, some members of our national House of Representatives and the United States Senate do not subscribe to the adage that "all men are equal on and under the turf" referred to by Secretary Humphrey, nor do they appreciate the truth of Secretary Humphreys observation that "racing is enjoyed and participated in both by our leaders in industry and government, as well as by millions of other good honest Americans who find relaxation, health and happiness in the sport." Another example of how racing was booted around. Federal Admissions Tax Kept on Racing This year the House of Representatives voted to cut the federal tax on admissions on all sports and amusements from 20 to 10 per cent. By any standard of reasoning, racing and patrons of racing were as much entitled to relief from the tax on admissions as the patron of any other sport or amusement. Apparently, the Ways and Means Committee of the House thought so when that committee voted in favor of lowering the tax and so did the House when it voted to approve the bill containing the tax cut for all sports including racing. The Senate Finance Committee immedir ately restored the 20 per cent tax on admissions only as it applied to racing and cabarets. No amount of argument or persuasion could induce the committee to accept the house bill. The bill with the 20 per cent tax on racing admissions was reported but by the committee and was adopted by the Senate. Every senator on the committee was contacted and requested to favor the same tax relief to racing patrons as was being extended patrons of other sports and amusements. The request was disregarded by the finance committee. The senators from every state where racing is legalized were contacted and requested to put racing on the same plane as other sports and amusements. When the bill was under consideration by the Senate, one senator asked the chairman, who was advocating the passage of the bill, if he did not consider that racing and patrons of racing were being discriminated against. His reply was "no." Nothing further was said or done to remedy this situation, the bill passed and the patrons of racing go on paying the 20 per cent admission tax while the patrons of every other sport pay 10 per cent. Again, we can point to discrimination against racing in Congressional halls and again we can ask ourselves "What are we going to do about it?" So what does all this add up to? I do not pretend to have the answer. I do say that we have a problem, one which merits the consideration of every organization in racing. We should all be ever on the alert for adverse legislation. We should present a united front to protect the interests of racing in th halls of Congress and in our state legislatures. Every organization in racing should, through the press, radio, television and every other possible medium, emphasize our importance as a sport and our objection to unfair discrimination and unjust taxation of our business. We must strike back at our critics and demonstrate that racing as a sport, as a business, as an outstanding feature of the entertainment world, and as a taxpayer, cannot be sold short.

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