New Racetrack Gaming Bill Proposed for Kentucky

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.

The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported that Rep. Tom Burch would introduce a bill Jan. 8 or Jan. 9 even though Gov. Paul Patton and key legislators said a push for expanded gaming has little chance during the current session. Kentucky is facing a $500-million budget deficit for 2003-2004.

The newspaper reported that, according to the legislation, 51% of revenue generated from slot machines would go to the state, 37% to racetracks, and 12% to horsemen in the form of purses. There were no details as to whether the machines would operate under the auspices of the Kentucky lottery.

Burch sponsored 2002 legislation to authorize electronic gaming devices at the state's eight racetracks. That bill, largely a product of the racing industry, cleared a House committee and went no further. Racing officials said the bill remains intact with only minor revisions.

Last year's EGD bill, which incorporated the Kentucky lottery, called for the state to get 28% to 41.4% of annual gaming income depending on how much money is pumped into the machines. Using a blended rate, horsemen would get 12.7%, and the tracks, which would bear the infrastructure and labor costs, would get 52.25% on average.

At first blush, there appears to be a discrepancy between the two bills, particularly in regard to racetracks' share of revenue.

In early January, Turfway Park president Bob Elliston told The Blood-Horse the racing industry sticks by its belief that expanded gaming should be limited to existing racetracks. Alex Waldrop, a senior vice president of Churchill Downs Inc., told the Courier-Journal the addition of land-based casinos would negatively impact the racing industry.