Vote on HHR By Full KY House Could Come Thursday

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The Kentucky State Capitol building | Getty Images

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A vote on the fate of historical horse race (HHR) gaming in Kentucky by the full House of Representatives could come as early as Thursday after lawmakers Wednesday morning continued to fast-track the “emergency” Senate bill to legalize the slot machine-like form of betting by defining “pari-mutuel wagering” to include previously run races.

About 17 hours after SB 120 passed the full Kentucky Senate by a 22-15 vote, the proposal sailed through the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee Feb. 10.

Representative Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger), who chairs that committee, said after the bill cleared his committee that the earliest it could be debated and voted upon on the House floor is Feb. 11.

“There are some more conversations to be had in our caucus,” Koenig told Casino.org reporter Steve Bittenbender via text message.

If the vote doesn't happen Thursday, the next earliest date on Kentucky's legislative calendar for the House to be in session is Tuesday, Feb. 16. This Friday is marked as a “draft day” for lawmakers, and the traditional weekend off extends through Monday next week because of the Presidents Day holiday.

Proponents of the bill are aiming to align HHR in a way that they believe will make the slots-like form of gaming constitutionally legal so the machines can keep generating $2.2. billion in annual handle. The Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund's purse-money cut from HHR is three-quarters of 1% of that handle.

HHR was put into peril Jan. 21, when the Supreme Court of Kentucky denied a petition for rehearing an earlier judgment that called into question the legality of HHR because it didn't amount to “pari-mutuel wagering.” The question over that legal definition, led by anti-gambling activists, has worked its way through the court system ever since HHR was first allowed by the state in 2012.

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