Horse racing was made illegal in Massachusetts this week, when the state law making it permissible was unintentionally allowed to expire at the end of a chaotic formal session, on July 31. The effect of this expiration was a ban on live and simulcast horse racing, across the state, starting August 1. You can imagine, this caused quite the freakout:
“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.
Lawmakers were aware of the scale of their boner—the State Senate President’s office reportedly said is was “aware of the seriousness of this issue” Wednesday night—and a scheduled “informal session” held Thursday morning took on new importance as lawmakers scrambled to correct their gaffe:
By early Thursday afternoon, the state House of Representatives and Senate moved to enact the bill during an informal session, sending it across the finish line to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk where it was promptly signed into law ahead of horse races planned for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
All told, the damage from the goof wasn’t too painful:
Venues and simulcasters were reportedly relicensed Thursday, and the industry is now back in business. The new law reportedly permits horse racing and simulcasting to continue in Massachusetts until July 31, 2019, because clearly there are no stupid and preventable potential consequences of making this the kind of thing that has to be renewed at the end of formal sessions every single year.