Indiana Panel: No Cutoff of Kentucky Signal

by James Platz

The Indiana Horse Racing Commission Aug. 2 rebuffed Indiana Downs' latest attempt to ban Kentucky Thoroughbred signals from all wagering outlets in the state.

Officials at the Shelbyville racetrack had hoped a blackout would force the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association to negotiate sending the signals to an off-track betting parlor in Clarksville, which is located just across the Ohio River from Louisville and Churchill Downs. The commission rejected the request on a 3-2 vote.

In July, the Indiana Department of Gaming Research submitted a report that said banning the Kentucky signal from the state would have a negative impact on both jurisdictions. According to the study, Indiana could lose up to $943,000 in income to the tracks, purse money for horsemen, and tax revenue to the state. Losses in Kentucky were pegged at $442,000. The report also said sending the signal to the Clarksville location would significantly impact Kentucky horsemen.

Indiana Downs officials argued the loss wouldn't be as significant as the study estimated. They believe patrons who can't play the Kentucky signal will find another suitable alternative.

"The study shows that we made the right decision in putting our OTB in that location," Indiana Downs attorney J.D. Lux said. "People will bet on other tracks if Kentucky isn't available."

The most recent failed attempt called for the Kentucky signal to be barred from Hoosier Park's satellite wagering facilities in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Merrillville. The decision comes on the heels of an Associated Press story that reported Hoosier Park lost $555,000 in 2003. Indiana Downs was in the red by $3.9 million, and is on target to post losses of $1.4 million this year.