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Massachusetts May Have Just Accidentally Banned Horse Racing

Horse Racing Funds
In this Sept. 22, 2014 file photo, gate crew members watch the start of a race at Suffolk Downs in Boston.
Elise Amendola/AP

Live horse racing and simulcast events scheduled to take place this week in Plainridge and East Boston might have to be postponed — because Beacon Hill lawmakers may have inadvertently allowed horse racing to become illegal.

State law authorizing live and simulcast horse racing expired July 31st, the last day of lawmaker's formal sessions for the year. A bill that would have extended racing's legality into 2019 seems to have been lost in the shuffle at the end of the session and wasn't enacted before lawmakers broke from significant legislative work for the rest of the year.

The law, as it stands, bans racing starting Aug. 1, 2018. The Plainridge Casino has a race set for Thursday and Suffolk Downs races on Saturday.

“It looks like hundreds of peoples’ jobs fell victim to the clock here. We’ll get up in the morning, notify our employees and look at our options but they seem pretty dire for now. We literally have hundreds of people and hundreds of horses scheduled to ship in for the weekend for live racing," Suffolk Downs Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle told WGBH News early Wednesday morning.

Tuttle says that if lawmakers don't fix the problem during — what is expected to be — a lightly-attended informal session Thursday, around 90 simulcast employees and over 200 live race workers will be out of work.

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