While we are all trying to adjust to life under the new Trump administration, there’s no doubt that the new policies soon to be implemented will affect some people will more severely than others. One such demographic is migrant workers, with Trump swiftly following up on one of his biggest campaign promises. We’ve all been following the news regarding the executive orders and ensuing aftermath, but one area that will unexpectedly be affected is the world of horse racing betting.
With millions of illegal residents deported, and millions of legal visas now revoked, the US will soon see a decrease in its immigrant work force. While to some racebook odds fans that might seem like a good, even harmless, ordeal, there will indubitably be some wild consequences, especially for those who bet on horse races.
Even before Trump took office, the visa program wasn’t efficient in producing legal workers for the horse racing betting industry. Coupled with the lack of US citizens willing to do the less than appealing work associated with the game; grooming, riding, and exercising of the steeds, and it’s easy to understand why there’s such a large need for workers in the industry.
“When you let something go on this long, all of a sudden it just blows up. And when something blows up, there’s going to be some collateral damage of [sic] some very good, hard-working people who shouldn’t be caught in this trap at all,” stated Mike Campbell, trainer, owner, and president of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association.
Naturally, racebooks and players alike would like to see these workers get accommodated and become legal. Unfortunately, like with most legal matters, the process is neither efficient nor fluid. Under current legislation, an undocumented migrant worker would be forced to return to his country of origin in order to gain legal work authorization. However, once in his home country, the worker can be denied access to the United States for up to 10 years.
And even when there is a suitable program, the competition is too fierce to suit everyone’s needs. For example, the H-2B visa – one of the rare visas applicable to horse racing betting workers – caps at 66,000 a year. There have already been 33,000 issued in 2017, and we haven’t even made it a third of the way into the year. Likewise, those 33,000 visas went out to a total of 82,100 applicants, which helps put the immensity of the situation in perspective.
There are other visa programs available, like the P1A or EB-3 visa. But even with different programs, the same problems are found in excess. So with a blatant lack of an adequate migrant policy for the racebook industry, soon there will be no migrant workers available to do the dirty work. With Trump as president, it’s very hard to imagine this issue getting addressed with an open mind. So with a huge blow to horse racing workers closing in, how will the industry respond?
George Crimarco, an immigration attorney based in Florida who currently represents around 500 clients involved in the horse racing industry, has stated that in 30 years as an immigration attorney, he has yet to witness a single American apply for one single job a migrant was holding in the horse racing industry.
If these issues are not resolved in a timely manner, we may witness a decline in horse racing within the United States