Kentucky HHR Bill Passes House Committee, On To House Floor

Senate Bill 120, which would expand Kentucky’s definition of parimutuel wagering to include historical horse racing (HHR) machines, unanimously passed the House Committee for Licensing, Occupations and Administration Regulations on Wednesday morning.

The bill passed the state senate Tuesday afternoon on a vote of 22-15.

The house committee heard from a nearly identical group of proponents and opponents to the bill as the Senate Committee on Licensing and Occupations last week. The house committee is chaired by Rep. Adam Koenig (R-District 69), who is also the legislative representative on the Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council, a committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The senate committee is chaired by Sen. John Schickel (R-District 11) who is the bill’s sponsor and also fielded questions from members of the house committee.

Horseman Tommy Drury provided the committee with his outlook on the way the cash influx from HHR has kept his business afloat, while representatives from The Family Foundation expressed a variety of concerns, framing the bill as a “millionaire’s bailout” and citing concerns about the constitutionality of the bill’s treatment of parimutuel wagering.

The bill’s supporters have repeatedly expressed the reliance of Kentucky’s racing industry on the increased purses and breeders’ incentives from HHR income, with particular focus on the many jobs supported by that revenue and the secondary industries that rely on racing for business.

There are a few different points of opposition expressed by legislators who spoke against the bill during its senate vote Tuesday; some question the tax structure for HHR income, saying the state does not benefit enough from the income. Others believe a constitutional amendment is the only sure way to make HHR legal because the definition of legal gambling in Kentucky is outlined in the state’s constitution. Still others have concerns about the potential for gambling addiction among HHR users, which they say disproportionately impacts poor families.

Early reports have indicated the bill could face more opposition in the house than it did in the senate. The bill may now go to the House floor for a vote, though it’s unclear when that will happen. Wednesday begins the thirteenth day of the Kentucky General Assembly regular session, which is limited to 30 days this year.

The post Kentucky HHR Bill Passes House Committee, On To House Floor appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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