KY Senate Passes ADW Licensing Legislation

The Kentucky Senate  passed a bill March 3 authorizing the licensing of advance deposit wagering companies and a requirement that they report pari-mutuel handle on Kentucky races.

The measure passed by a 36-0 vote and goes to the House of Representatives, which already passed its version of the bill, for concurrence. The provision for quarterly handle reporting was a Senate committee substitute.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which would license ADW providers, has held committee meetings on the topic. KHRC members have called for transparency.

Republican Sen. Damon Thayer, on the Senate floor, suggested money is falling through the cracks. Bets made through ADW companies on Kentucky races aren’t subject to a tax that funnels money to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund, which has lost millions of dollars in annual revenue as in-state handle has declined.

Even if a bettor is at a Kentucky track using an ADW to play Kentucky races, the KTDF is bypassed under current statute.

“Every other kind of wager has a small piece going to a fund for Kentucky-bred horses,” Thayer said. “We need to find a way to get a handle on this through licensing and reporting.”

Thayer said the information will be “crucial” as the General Assembly in future years looks for ways to increase purses and breed development funds.

Many ADW companies take bets on Kentucky races from Kentucky residents. One, TwinSpires.com, is owned by Kentucky-based Churchill Downs Inc. Representatives of the company in the past have told the KHRC that ADW providers are already highly regulated.

The ADW measure will provide no assistance for purses this year. The Kentucky General Assembly session for 2011 is wrapping up, again with no immediate funding for the Kentucky horse industry, which continues to lose participants and horses because of competition from other states that support racing and breeding through other means such as alternative gaming.

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