Thoroughbred breeders told Kentucky legislators Aug. 21 the state must step up and offer assistance if its signature industry is to stabilize and grow in years to come.
There's still more than four months until the Kentucky General Assembly meets, but Sen. Damon Thayer has prefiled three bills, two of which are designed to save horse breeders and farmers money.
With an economic impact pegged at about $3.4 billion, the equine industry has been called the most important in Kentucky. Some legislators would like to keep it healthy--even help it grow--but they've acknowledged they don't have all the answers.
Kentucky's equine industry will be the focus June 18 when the recently formed Subcomittee on Horse Farming of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources holds its first meeting.
For the first time in Kentucky history, there will be a legislative subcommittee that will regularly address issues that affect the horse breeding and racing industry in the state.
With legislation to authorize racetrack gaming apparently dead during the current legislative session in Kentucky, the racing industry is expected to begin another campaign well before the 2004 session begins.
Kentucky racetrack operators made their case Feb. 21 for the right to operate electronic gaming devices, but the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee postponed action on the legislation pending review of how the state's share of revenue would be spent.
Legislation to authorize electronic gaming devices at Kentucky racetracks was introduced Feb. 18 with a new twist: The tracks have offered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars up front to help the state tackle its lingering budget crisis as long as they get exclusive rights to gaming in the marketplace.
A look at the financial dealings of the multimillion-dollar Kentucky Health and Welfare Fund, a benevolence organization that already has been the subject of a review by the Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts, will continue later this year, legislators said during a Feb. 12 hearing.
Kentucky's leadership role in breeding excellence may be slipping and too many of the state's legislators fail to understand the importance of the state's Thoroughbred industry, how it works, and who it represents.
A Kentucky legislator plans to introduce a bill for racetrack-based gaming, but he said the state might have to look to casino gambling at locations other than tracks in the future.
Damon Thayer, vice president of Breeders' Cup and event marketing for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, has filed a letter of intent with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance as a "future year candidate" for Kentucky Senate District 17.
- By Tom LaMarra
Legislation to authorize electronic gaming devices at Kentucky's eight racetracks cleared the House Licensing and Occupations Committee by a 9-5 vote March 18 and now heads to the full House. When the bill may be heard, though, remains to be seen.
Legislation introduced March 4 in the Kentucky House of Representatives would permit multi-jurisdictional simulcasting and interstate wagering hubs in the state. Licenses would be available to facilities that conduct live racing in Kentucky.
Racing industry officials in Kentucky met for a few hours the evening of Feb. 18 to wrap up loose ends on legislation that would authorize video lottery terminals at racetracks in the state. Officials are tentatively scheduled to meet with leaders in the House of Representatives Feb. 20.
The same week Kentucky's Thoroughbred racetracks and horsemen agreed on how to divvy up revenue from video lottery terminals or slot machines, a state legislator unveiled a plan for land-based casinos that could be operated by parties other than tracks.
Legislators responsible for putting together Kentucky's budget said Wednesday lawmakers should consider alternative gaming at the state's racetracks for two reasons: to aid the equine industry and generate much-needed revenue for the state.
Kentucky legislators, seemingly receptive to the plight of the state's horse racing and breeding industry, indicated a willingness Friday to consider any proposal for assistance as long as the industry is on the same page. At a committee hearing in Frankfort, Ky., the issue of alternative gaming came up at least indirectly, and no one flinched.
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