FRANKFORT (KT) — A bill to legalize historical horse racing, which are essentially slot machines, in Kentucky cleared its first legislative hurdle last week as it passed the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee without dissent.
However, not everybody is happy about it. The Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Family Foundation are both opposed to the measure.
The measure looks to fix what led Kentucky’s Supreme Court to unanimously rule that at least some forms of the slots-like historical horse racing don’t meet pari-mutuel wagering standards under state law. Senate Bill 120 is sponsored by Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, who chairs the Licensing and Occupations Committee, along with Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.
Tom Drury, a horse trainer, testified he relies on the smaller racetracks like Turfway and Ellis Park to make a living, and that the tracks need the historic horse racing to survive and be able to increase purses at the races so he can stay in business and keep people employed in Kentucky’s signature industry.
Drury’s bottom line: “We’re struggling. The smaller tracks are really struggling, the smaller trainers are struggling. If this doesn’t go, we’re going to lose tracks, we’re going to lose jobs, and we’re going to lose horses. We really need you to help us out.”
KBC Executive Director-Treasurer Dr. Todd Gray is opposed to any form of gambling.
“Kentucky Baptists continue to believer there is a better way to provide the financial resources needed by the state than partnering with an industry that harms people through expanding the devastating reach of gambling.”
SB 120 cleared the committee on a bipartisan 8-0 vote, and now heads to the Senate floor. Stivers and Senior Majority Leader Damon Thayer back the measure.