VLT Bill Introduced in Kentucky; Informational Meeting Set

Legislation that would legalize video lottery terminals at Kentucky's eight racetracks was introduced Tuesday in the state House of Representatives by Rep. Jim Callahan (D-Wilder), whose district includes Turfway Park.

If enacted as introduced by Callahan, the legislation would provide for VLTs only at the eight racetracks currently licensed and would establish a new state commission to oversee gaming, with seven members to be appointed by the governor.

Under a "blended scale" model of a breakdown of VLT revenue, 35% would go to the state, 12.7% would accrue to purses, and racetracks would receive roughly half of total revenue, with a stipulation they would have to reinvest it in areas such as infrastructure or personnel.

According to projections provided by some of the state's tracks, the "blended scale" breakdown of revenue from VLTs would boost Churchill Downs' purses from the current daily average of $416,000 to $764,000 per day, while Turfway's purses would go from $172,000 daily to an average of $464,000 per day. At Keeneland, which has the country's highest daily average purse distribuction of $655,000, VLT revenues under Callahan's bill would boost it to $1.1 million daily.

Robert Elliston, Turfway Park president, noted that the legislation is designed to stop an outflow of money from Kentucky to neighboring states that offer riverboat casino gambling. "This is about the money," Elliston said. "There is $1-billion of Kentuckians' hard earned pay that is going out of the state. We've identified a reliable source of revenue for Kentucky."

While most of the support for VLTs in Kentucky is coming from House members, some state senators attended the press conference to show their support. Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville) and Senate Majority Leader Dan Kelly (R-Springfield) have both reportedly voiced their opposition to the expaded gaming efforts.

Meanwhile, representatives of two horsemen's groups--the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association--will outline specifics of Callahan's legislation during an informational meeting Wednesday. The meeting at the Keeneland Association sale pavilion in Lexington, Ky. is open and will begin at 11:00 a.m. (ET).