International Hub Legislation OK'd by Kentucky House

Legislation to authorize creation of an international wagering hub was passed by the Kentucky House of Representatives April 13, final day of the 2004 regular General Assembly session.

The House approved a conference committee report, and the measure passed on a 64-42 vote. It had passed the Senate in March, and now goes to Gov. Ernie Fletcher for his signature.

Some changes were made before the bill passed the House. For instance, there had been a push to put the hub infrastructure at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington, but the bill says the facility can't be located on state property. In addition, the operation might not be spared taxes as was proposed earlier.

No more than four hubs can be located in the state at one time. A licensee can operate a hub independently or in association with one or more racetracks licensed in Kentucky.

The bill says the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority may require the hub to pay a license fee not to exceed $200 per operating day, and a fee of not more than 1% of the hub's total gross wagering receipts. All wagers made through accounts maintained by a hub operator will be considered having been made in Kentucky.

Oregon currently hosts several multi-jurisdictional hubs that pay one-quarter of 1% of handle to the state. The money is used in part to support live racing operations.

The measure also revises state statute to allow for Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Arabians foaled by artificial insemination or other means to race in the state. The revision was necessary to facilitate live Quarter Horse racing at The Red Mile this summer.

Also, the state's three harness tracks--Bluegrass Downs, The Red Mile, and Thunder Ridge Raceway--won't have to pay an excise tax. The money is to be used to promote and maintain facilities and live racing, according to the bill.