Kentucky House Approves Historical Horse Racing Bill, Goes To Governor For Signature

By a 55-38 vote, Kentucky’s House of Representatives on Thursday evening approved Senate Bill 120, legalizing Historical Horse Racing machines through a clarification of what constitutes pari-mutuel wagering.

On Tuesday, the Kentucky Senate passed the measure, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel, by a 22-15 vote.

The bill now goes to Gov. Andy Beshear, who has expressed strong support for Historical Horse Racing.

Legislation was deemed necessary despite the operation of Historical Horse Racing wagering in Kentucky for nearly 10 years after a unanimous vote by the state Supreme Court siding with the Family Foundation’s argument that the machines were not pari-mutuel by the existing definition and therefore unconstitutional.

Thursday’s vote came after a lengthy debate from legislators on both sides of the issue, with most of the opponents voicing concerns over problem gambling or citing religious or moral objections. Some said the bill, if passed, would be challenged in court.

Several House members said the Kentucky General Assembly should raise taxes on Historical Horse Racing, with Minority Leader. Joni L. Jenkins (D-Shively) – who voted in favor the bill – saying the current tax rate on the machines is “shameful.”

Statement from the Kentucky Equine Education Project

“Thank you to our representatives in the House for acting in Kentuckians’ best interests and passing critical legislation to keep historical horse racing in the commonwealth. This is great news for the 1,400 people employed directly by historical horse racing and the tens of thousands more who rely on the horse industry to provide for their families.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling on HHR last year brought major uncertainty to our employees, local businesses, communities and our industry as a whole. We applaud the General Assembly for acting swiftly to maintain the status quo of historical horse racing that the Kentucky has known for the last ten years. With the passage of SB 120, we are confident about the future of Kentucky racing and our ability to continue bringing new jobs and economic growth to our communities across the commonwealth.

“Gov. Beshear has been vocal in his support of historical horse racing and its positive impacts on our state, and we look forward to seeing SB 120 signed into law.”

Statement from Churchill Downs Inc., Keeneland, Ellis Entertainment LLC, Red Mile Racetrack, and Kentucky Downs

“On behalf of our team members, our horsemen and all of the citizens of the Commonwealth who earn their pay checks directly or indirectly from the horse industry, we applaud the Kentucky House of Representatives for the passage today of SB 120. The future of the Commonwealth’s signature industry and those who support it is secure.

“We had extensive discussions with Governor Beshear and given his longstanding and unwavering support of the horse industry, we anticipate that he will sign SB 120 into law.

“We express our profound gratitude to bill sponsor Senator Schickel, President Stivers and Minority Leader McGarvey of the Kentucky Senate and Speaker Osborne and Minority Leader Jenkins of the Kentucky House of Representatives for their leadership in securing SB 120’s passage in the General Assembly.

“On behalf of the Commonwealth’s race tracks, we also confirm and reiterate our discussions with Governor Beshear, Minority Leader McGarvey and Minority Leader Jenkins that we will work constructively to revise and raise the tax structure on historical racing machines, including consideration of a fair and equitable graduated tax structure. We look forward to those discussions in the near term and confirm our commitment to the Commonwealth to build on our tax and job base through sound capital investments and good corporate citizenship.”

Statement from Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs, Inc.

“I commend the House for their action today that keeps historical horse racing in Kentucky, preserves the strength of our state’s signature industry and protects thousands of jobs that are dependent upon it. With the passage of Senate Bill 120 in the Senate and now the House, our legislators have made clear their support of historical horse racing in the Commonwealth.

“I wish to personally thank Governor Beshear for his unwavering support of the horse industry and the leadership of bill sponsor Senator Schickel, President Stivers, Majority Leader Thayer and Minority LeaderMcGarvey, of the Kentucky Senate as well as Speaker Osbourne and Minority Leader Jenkins of the Kentucky House of Representatives in securing SB 120’s passage in the General Assembly today. We, of course, look forward to Governor Beshear’s signage of SB 120, which he has stated publicly he will do.

“Tens of thousands of Kentuckians have contributed to the growth and success of our racing circuit and equine industry. I am thankful not only for the important work they do each day to keep our industry moving forward, but for taking the time to reach out to their legislators on this critical issue. Your voices truly made a difference in the effort to keep HHR in Kentucky.

“Following discussions today with Governor Beshear, Minority Leader McGarvey and Minority Leader Jenkins, I reiterate our commitment to working constructively to revise and raise the tax structure on historical racing machines, including consideration of a fair and equitable graduated tax structure. Additionally, I reaffirm our commitment, upon SB 120 becoming law, to immediately reengage on our capital investment project planning in Kentucky which, in turn, when implemented will create millions of dollars in economic impact and hundreds of construction and permanent jobs in the Commonwealth.

“I look forward to moving on from the uncertainty our industry has faced over the past several months and to our continued investment in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Statement from the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association

“Horsemen across Kentucky, and those across the nation who race in the Commonwealth, should be so proud of the Republican and Democratic leadership in the Kentucky House for shepherding passage of SB 120. As Rep. Adam Koenig and others so eloquently expressed, Sen. John Schickel’s bill is imperative to securing the future for a signature Kentucky industry and the tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars it preserves and creates in economic development, agribusiness and tourism for our state. With this clarification of what constitutes pari-mutuel wagering and resulting protection for Historical Horse Racing, Kentucky racing can continue its upward trajectory as America’s premier racing circuit – and thanks to SB 120 we will have a strong year-round circuit. Passage of this bill not only protects the livelihoods of countless Kentuckians, but also avoids what would be a devastating loss in business to the thousands of small business owners and vendors who directly and indirectly benefit from the horse and racing industries.”

House members’ vote on SB 120

The post Kentucky House Approves Historical Horse Racing Bill, Goes To Governor For Signature appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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