On today’s episode of the Dive, I’m talking to Nigel Jaquiss about his Willamette Week cover story “Track Addicts,” an in-depth investigation into the obscure Oregon agency that is quietly but powerfully enabling the animal racing industry worldwide.
The Oregon Racing Commission is a government agency tasked with overseeing horse and dog racing, even though there is very little animal racing left in Oregon—mostly at county fairs. But this commission exists not to regulate local animal races but, thanks to an early—like ’90s early—adoption of online gambling, to prop up a global network of gamblers placing their bets on ponies, dogs and digital ponies and dogs. The kicker: The commission capped their taxes, so despite creating and propping up a billion-dollar industry, the state has very little to show for it monetarily.
I’ll have Nigel explain how and why this commission exists, and we’ll unpack why some believe it should get the Portland Meadows treatment.