Kentucky Extends Comment Period on Wagering Hubs

The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority has extended its public comment period for new administrative regulations governing multi-jurisdictional wagering hubs, a law for which was passed in 2004. Two years later, no hubs are operating in the state.

The regulations allow interested parties such as racetracks and account-wagering services to apply for a wager-processing hub in Kentucky similar to those that operate in Oregon. The idea is to funnel more pari-mutuel handle through the state to assist in economic development of the horse industry.

The KHRA adopted regulations Jan. 17, and they were filed with the Legislative Research Commission later that month. The public comment period was to expire March 31, but the deadline was extended through April 12, according to a memorandum from KHRA executive director Jim Gallagher.

The 2004 Kentucky statute, like the Oregon law, says a daily licensing fee charged to hub operators can be no more than $200, and the tax on handle no more than 1%. Oregon, however, set its handle tax at one-quarter of 1% in an attempt to attract business. Some of that revenue supports live racing programs in the state.

The KHRA-adopted regulations say there won't be a surcharge on wagers, but they don't address fees and taxes. Gallagher said such language could be added following the public comment period; on the other hand, Kentucky could end up having no handle tax in an effort to attract business.

A hub or hubs wouldn't impact existing account-wagering operations in Kentucky, though only The Red Mile, a Lexington harness track, has its own phone-betting operation. Thoroughbred tracks in the state have exclusive contracts with the TV Games Network, which hubs through Oregon.

There has been some behind-the-scenes movement on the establishment of a wagering hub or hubs in Kentucky, though details haven't been available. There have been indications a consortium of Kentucky tracks may join forces to operate a hub that would accept domestic and international wagers.