Bill Overhauling Kentucky Racing Commission Passes State Senate

Damon Thayer

A bill introduced by Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer to create a new government corporation to oversee horse racing in the state has passed through the Kentucky Senate and will move on to the Kentucky General Assembly, according to the Kentucky Lantern.

Senate Bill 299 was heard in a joint meeting of the Senate and House economic development committees Tuesday morning and won Senate approval in a 26-11 floor vote in the afternoon. The bill would create the Kentucky Horse Racing and Gaming Corporation to replace the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Department of Charitable Gaming. The racing commission would be abolished in July 2024 and its employees and responsibilities would be transferred to the corporation, which would oversee live horse racing and sports wagering, as well as charitable gaming, after July 2025.

Board members of the corporation would be appointed by the governor and subject to Senate confirmation.

“I think this would bring increased scrutiny, integrity and transparency to all legal forms of gaming in Kentucky,” Kentucky Lantern quoted Thayer as saying in a committee meeting to discuss the bill.

Democratic Caucus Chair Reggie Thomas of Lexington led his party's opposition to the bill, which was introduced as a shell bill.

“The lack of transparency, the lack of sunshine, is something that should not be applauded,” he said.

Shell bills typically contain no substantive provisions and are introduced to ultimately be amended to include the actually intended legislative proposals.

In addition to the Democratic opposition, five Republicans also voted against the bill.

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