Plans to Aid KY Horse Industry in the Works

A bill authorizing electronic games of skill in Kentucky was introduced March 2.

Yet another bill authorizing gaming at racetracks has been introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly. With less than a month to go in the session, no action has been taken on any gaming-related legislation.

The latest measure, offered by Democratic Rep. Harry Moberly Jr., would authorize electronic games of skill at up to nine racetracks in the state. There currently are eight operating tracks, with a license available for another.

The games would be subject to local-option vote in the counties in which the tracks are located.

The legislation, introduced March 2, states that 13.5% of EGS revenue would go to purses, with another 1.5% allocated for purse supplements, breeders’ awards, and stallion awards. The state would get 18% of EGS revenue, which leaves the racetracks with 67%.

The tracks would have to construct the gaming facilities and purchase or lease the machines, which could offer video poker and blackjack, for instance. Electronic games of skill are considered those in which the outcome isn’t predetermined, as is the case with slot machines.

Players would get back no less than 83% of the money put into the machines, the legislation states.

Unlike other gaming legislation in Kentucky, the measure allows for the possibility of two gaming facilities in Fayette County. Keeneland and The Red Mile would have the option of having their own facility or joining forces on one.

Legislative leaders told the Louisville Courier-Journal the bill has little chance of being considered.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Moberly’s bill would produce about $28 million a year for purses in the state. Legislation introduced in the Senate but not yet heard in committee would provide up to $100 million a year purses should voters statewide approve a constitutional amendment on racetrack video lottery terminals.

Republican Sen. Damon Thayer, who introduced the Senate bill, said March 4 he and other members of the Senate “are putting the finishing touches” on a proposal that would fund purses and breed development programs in Kentucky.

Later in the day, Thayer issued a statement regarding Moberly's bill and his plan.

"For some time, with my knowledge, there has been a focused effort to develop a comprehensive strategy providing assistance for the horse industry with representatives from the industry," Thayer said. "Somehow, Democrat State Rep. Harry Moberly became aware of elements of these good-faith discussions and filed legislation apparently to politicize attempts to help the horse industry.

"Over 80% of Kentuckians believe they should vote on a constitutional amendment to expand gambling rather than have the General Assembly decide for them. I have not deviated from my consistent position that any expansion of gambling must first be approved by a vote of the people.

"As chairman of the Senate and Local Government Committee, I will offer a series of proposals to implement a targeted package to assist the horse industry. I look forward to my colleagues in the Senate voting on this important legislation, which will soon be considered by the committee."