Breakage, the practice of rounding down bettors' payouts to the nearest 10 or even 20-cent number rather than paying the deserved amount to the penny, has long been a thorn in horseplayers' sides. Kentucky state representative Adam Koenig, an avid horseplayer himself, is trying to do something about it in his state. Wednesday morning, Koenig joined the TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland as the Green Group Guest of the Week to discuss the bill he's sponsoring to eliminate breakage in Kentucky, as well as his proposed sports betting legislation, the successful effort to protect historical horse racing in the Bluegrass and more.
“Breakage laws go so far back that we can't even figure out when they were passed in Kentucky, but there was a time 100 years ago when the only place to go and legally make wagers was the racetrack,” Koenig explained. “The lines were deep and it was something done to make it easier to cash people out. They didn't have computer to figure out how much was being wagered. They were counting the money in the back and figuring out the odds by hand in real time. But obviously those days have come and gone, and it's time for our laws to reflect today's reality. Now we have an opportunity to do something about it, and this is going to be a comprehensive parimutuel wagering modernization bill.”
Koenig added that, especially in Kentucky with skyrocketing purses and the lucrative historical horse racing machines, accurately paying winning horseplayers is a matter of fairness.
“I live five minutes from Turfway,” he said. “Churchill Downs is building a beautiful facility there. They've got multiple facilities in Louisville. They've got a harness track in Hopkinsville. They're making plenty of money on the HHR facilities and I think, certainly on the breakage front, they can stand to help the bettors. We've taken care of the tracks. We've taken care of the breeders and the trainers and the jockeys. We need all of them to make the show run. But we also need bettors to make the show run. And by God, I'm going to take care of the bettors, not just because I am one, but because we need to take care of those folks without whom we don't have an industry.”
Elsewhere on the show, which is also sponsored by Coolmore, Lane's End, West Point Thoroughbreds, XBTV, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders and Legacy Bloodstock, Joe Bianca, Bill Finley and special guest co-host Randy Moss of NBC Sports touched on Michael Beychok's decision to stop playing the horses, the beginning of the trials in the doping scandal, the proposed four-race campaign of Flightline (Tapit) and more. Click here to watch the podcast; click here for the audio-only version or find it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.