Opponents say action could lead to more gambling parlors

The Licensing, Occupations and administration Regulations committee met Thursday in Frankfort.

FRANKFORT – (KT) An administrative regulation sought by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to allow horse racing tracks to build another facility within 60 miles was approved without comment and without a vote by the Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee on Thursday.

Opponents says this gives Kentucky tracks the opportunity to expand historical racing, without approval by either lawmakers or citizens.

The regulation dealt with the definition of “licensed premises” and, up until this point, meant the location of a licensed racetrack, operated by a racing association.

Attorney Stan Cave, who represents the Family Foundation, says the committee action means, “It also includes physical locations where there is no racetrack, and not even a requirement of being contiguous to the location of a racetrack.”

While the regulation language stated one facility or real property owned by a racing association, Cave fears it goes beyond that.  “They can put as many locations within a 60-mile radius of a location that has a racetrack as they want.”

He also says there is a simple reason that the racing associations wants a location that doesn’t have a track.  “There’s only one answer to that, so they can put another gambling parlor in.  Another location to have these so-called slot machines in, so they don’t have to be at a racing location.”

“You draw a radius of 60 miles, and they could have essentially locations all over the state that don’t have a racetrack, just standalone gambling parlors or mini-casinos,” and a 60-mile radius from all racetracks in the state would blanket the state, Cave said.

As for when this regulation would take effect, Cave noted, “These regulations back in June went through the Administrative Regulation Review subcommittee, so they are on their way to being implemented.”

He believes the Horse Racing Commission has expanded its statutory authority to license facilities beyond what is allowed by state law.

Cave also stated, “The state basically is getting a pittance of the tax revenue, because there is a 1.5 percent excise tax on gross handle, but a full percent of that goes back into purses and thorough bred development funds and things like that.  The state is virtually getting nothing, so those people who want to yell and scream that we need casino gambling so we could have the revenue, we have casino gaming, it’s just the legislature has never acted on it, just the unelected Horse Racing Commission.”

While the Kentucky Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in August over whether wagering on historical horse races using the Exacta System is pari-mutuel wagering allowed by state law, Cave says the Exacta System is only one of several gaming systems that are being used for that purpose.

This is the second time the issue will go before the justices.  Cave says the first time, in 2014, only decided part of the case, “But didn’t decide whether the actual operations of these games are pari-mutual wagering.”

(By Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

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