Beshear signs bill to preserve historical horse racing

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 7:02 AM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Gov. Andy Beshear has signed legislation aimed at securing the legality of betting on historical racing machines.

Beshear said Monday that the measure protects the state’s thoroughbred industry. But he says more work remains to enact “a more fair and equitable tax structure.”

His comments reflect calls by some lawmakers for a higher tax rate on historical racing operations.

The slots-style historical racing machines allow people to bet on randomly generated, past horse races. The venture has become a lucrative revenue source for the state’s racetracks.

In September of last year, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled some historical racing machines in the Commonwealth were illegal. The machines were in use at Red Mile, Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park.

Historical racing operations at Red Mile were closed in January as a result.

The Family Foundation, a faith-based organization, criticized the bill and the lawmakers who helped it clear the general assembly.

“Lawmakers didn’t address the problems with the bill opponents had pointed out,” wrote Martin Cothran, Senior Policy Analyst of The Family Foundation. “Instead, it ignored them, and rather than the horse tracks and their allies on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission changing their actions to bring them into alignment with the law, lawmakers simply changed the law to suit a very wealthy and influential special interest.”

“The horse industry made a deal with the Devil,” Cothran said. “And that’s never a good bargain.”

The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), praised Beshear for signing Senate Bill 120 into law:

“We thank Governor Beshear for signing Senate Bill 120 into law, which ensures the future of our equine industry while protecting thousands of local jobs.”

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