Kentucky State Senator John Schickel and Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers introduced Senate Bill 120 into the Kentucky State legislature late Tuesday with the goal of keeping historical horse racing in Kentucky and ensuring the future of Kentucky's signature equine industry.
“KEEP applauds Senator Schickel and Senate President Stivers for Introducing Senate Bill 120, Legislation to Keep Historical Horse Racing in Kentucky,” read a KEEP press release issued late yesterday.
“In response to the Supreme Court's ruling on historical horse racing, the legislation will define pari-mutuel wagering to be consistent with how the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has regulated live racing for decades and historical horse racing for the last 10 years. The legislation also reaffirms that only pari-mutuel wagering on simulcasts of live racing can occur at simulcast facilities. In effect, this maintains the status quo that Kentucky has known for the last decade, ensuring HHR venues can continue or resume operations that are so beneficial to the horse industry and statewide economy.
“This effort is about preserving a system of wagering we've known for live racing for decades and historical horse racing for the last 10 years,” Schickel said last week, as he prepared to introduce the legislation. “This is about maintaining the status quo. Our immediate action as legislators is critical to protecting current and future jobs and economic development across the Commonwealth.”
A ruling in September by the Kentucky Supreme Court stipulated that many of the state's machines do not constitute pari-mutuel wagering and were therefore not allowed. It also required that legislation be introduced to uphold the existing definition of the games as pari-mutuel before the end of the legislative session Mar. 30. The original lawsuit against HHR was brought by the Family Foundation, a conservative organization opposed to gambling and its expansion. Members of the racing industry argue that the loss of revenue would be crippling to racing in Kentucky.
“We applaud Sen. Schickel for championing Senate Bill 120, which will keep historical horse racing in Kentucky and protect critical jobs, economic investment and state revenue at a time when they are needed most,” said the statement from KEEP. “We also thank Senate President Stivers for his support as a co-sponsor of this important legislation. The Kentucky Supreme Court gave the General Assembly clear direction to preserve the status quo, and SB 120 gives us a path forward.
“Historical horse racing is an integral part of Kentucky's signature equine industry and our economy as a whole and has helped position Kentucky as a worldwide leader in racing. With real jobs and investment on the line, we urge the members of the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee to promptly move this legislation forward so that the commonwealth can continue to benefit from historical horse racing, now and in the years to come.”
SB 120 is set to be heard in the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 4.