Prop 26 Provides a Financial “Lifeline” to the Horseracing Industry with a Terrible Animal Safety Record

SACRAMENTO, CA – August 4, 2022 – Organizations across the state dedicated to the humane treatment of animals have come together to announce their opposition to Proposition 26 which will be on the November 2022 ballot. Prop 26 contains a provision that allows in-person sports betting at private horse racetracks in addition to tribal casinos. This amounts to a special interest giveaway that hands millions of dollars to horse racetracks – a dying industry that has led to the death of more than 1,600 horses over the last 10 years.

“Prop 26 will give millions of dollars to an industry that has a terrible record on animal safety with horses dying every year,” said Madeline Bernstein, President of spcaLA. “This industry has been failing and attendance declining over the last few years – even before the pandemic – and we should not give them a bailout. The people have already ‘voted’.”

“Prop 26 provides a financial ‘shot in the arm’ to private horseracing tracks with no requirement or accountability towards increasing animal safety,” said Jill Tucker, CEO of California Animal Welfare Association. “This is not good policy as the industry needs to independently improve animal safety to attract back its customer base rather than ignoring these serious challenges and focusing on millions of dollars coming their way due to Prop 26.”

“We are seriously concerned about Proposition 26 as it ignores the animal safety record and instead gives the horseracing industry a new funding stream in the form of millions of dollars,” said Dr. Gary Weitzman, President and CEO at San Diego Humane Society. “We encourage voters to reject Prop 26.”

“Horse racing amounts to animal cruelty and exploitation,” said Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, CEO of San Francisco SPCA. “It is a dying industry that should not be given millions of dollars in aid through in person sports wagering. If Prop 26 passes, countless horses will suffer in the coming years. For this reason, we strongly oppose Prop 26.”

California horseracing tracks reported 144 horse deaths in 2018 as well as reporting 122 horse deaths from July 2019-June 2020 and 72 horse deaths during the height of the pandemic from July 2020-June 2021. In fact, a nationally-recognized horse racing expert stated in a January 2022 Daily Californian opinion article, “From breeding for speed, to employing pubescent bodies, to the incessant grinding – not to mention the commodification – of those bodies, to forcing them to run at an unnatural rate, in an unnatural way, and through unnatural means, horse racing guarantees killing. Guarantees.Source

Santa Anita has already experienced another eight horse deaths in the past six months while the horse racing industry is touting Prop 26 as its “lifeline” stating:

USA Today headline last week proclaimed “How legalized sports betting in California could revive horse tracks” and the article discusses how Prop 26 will help a dying industry. One owner of 76 race horses said, “The addition of this wagering could be monumental for horse racing, a major shot in the arm.”

“It’s going to be very powerful” for the racing industry. Horse racing is never going to get monies from the state or from the casinos. This is our last lifeline, and it’s extremely important to us.” – Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) vice chairman, Bob Liewald, Thoroughbred Daily News

Due to this handout to horse racetracks, organizations today announcing their opposition to Proposition 26 include:

● California Animal Welfare Association
● Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County
● Fresno Humane Animal Services
● Inland Valley Humane Society and S.P.C.A.
● Marin Humane Society
● National Animal Care and Control Association
● Public Interest Coalition
● San Diego Humane Society
● Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA)
● San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (San Francisco SPCA)

If enacted, Prop 26 will propagate the horse racing industry by allowing horse racetracks to accept sports wagers at their facilities and receive millions of dollars in new revenue. For years, horse racing has been declining in popularity, with attendance dramatically down at racetracks even before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Handing millions of dollars to special interest racetracks will enable them to continue operating despite their concerning animal safety record and declining popularity with Californians.

For more information on Prop 26, go to