The Kentucky State Senate reportedly passed legislation yesterday that would officially change the definition of parimutuel wagering so as to allow licensed facilities in the southern state to continue offering historical racing games.
According to a Tuesday report from The Courier-Journal newspaper, the Republican-controlled chamber ratified Senate Bill 120 by a vote of 22 to 15 following heavy lobbying from the local horseracing industry. The move purportedly came after the Kentucky Supreme Court last year ruled that the games, which resemble slots often found in casinos, did not constitute legal parimutuel wagering and should be removed from tracks.
The newspaper reported that Senate Bill 120, which was sponsored by Kentucky State Senator John Schickel, is now destined to head to a vote before the 100-seat Kentucky House of Representatives where a similar outcome would send it to the desk of Democratic Governor Andy Beshear. The local horseracing industry purportedly believes that the legislation’s successful passage would allow it to protect its future and save thousands of at-risk jobs in ‘The Bluegrass State’ including some 1,400 positions at Boone County’s Turfway Park.
The Courier-Journal reported that Beshear used a Tuesday press conference to detail that he would be pleased to approve Senate Bill 120 should pass through the Kentucky House of Representatives as historical racing games are directly responsible for around $15 million in annual tax revenues. The Kentucky Equine Education Project advocacy group purportedly similarly praised the ratification and declared that the ultimate success of the legislation would ‘protect important jobs and investment in communities across the commonwealth.’
Reportedly read a statement from the Kentucky Equine Education Project…
“The future of the horse industry and Kentucky’s economy is in legislators’ hands and real jobs and livelihoods are at risk. A vote to keep historical horseracing in Kentucky is a vote for Kentucky families and the industry that supports them.”
However, it reportedly remains uncertain as to whether the Kentucky House of Representatives will pass Senate Bill 120 with many critics asserting that the measure is unconstitutional as historical racing games can only be approved by means of a statewide referendum. Kentucky State Senator Damon Thayer purportedly stated that such an exercise, even if it was successful, would likely keep the lucrative units out of the state’s tracks until late next year at the earliest and lead to the closure of ‘three to four racetracks’ by the end of 2021.