UPDATE POSTED 11 A.M. JAN. 28, 2021
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky State Senator John Schickel, of Boone County, plans to file next week legislation he says will address the historical horse racing issues that have resulted in some tracks and parlors having to shut down following a state Supreme Court ruling.
“Next week, I will file legislation to keep historical horse racing operational in Kentucky. The bill, which I am pleased to say will be co-sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, will address the recent Kentucky Supreme Court decision on pari-mutuel wagering and ensure that historical horse racing facilities are able to continue operating, while employing Kentuckians, generating state tax revenue and strengthening our signature equine industry,” Schickel said in a statement.
“This effort is about preserving a system of wagering we’ve known for live racing for decades and historical horse racing for the last ten years. 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.
“I have long supported Kentucky’s equine industry and recognize the importance of historical horse racing to its continued success. This issue is of particular importance in my district with the future of Turfway Park potentially in the balance, but if left unaddressed, the negative consequences are sure to impact the entire state. I look forward to working with my colleagues in General Assembly to address the clear legislative direction provided by the Kentucky Supreme Court,” Schickel concluded.
ORIGINAL STORY POSTED MONDAY, JAN. 25, 2021
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Hundreds are without jobs Monday throughout Kentucky after race tracks and betting parlors were forced to shut down Historical Horse Racing machines that allow players to bet on races that have already happened.
Now, legislators are looking to help bring it back or at least find an alternative.
Despite the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously voting in September, Historical Horse Racing, HHR, is unconstitutional it continued while Red Mile, Keeneland and others waited for the court to possibly re-assess.
It denied to re-assess the decision. On Monday, Red Mile closed its HHR machines.
“We’re talking about 300 jobs, 300 jobs,” Sen. Reggie Thomas, D-Lexington, said.
Red Mile said specifically 302 jobs are now in jeopardy.
Now, legislators on both sides, Sen. Thomas and Republican Rep. Killian Timoney are worried about the economic impact.
“If covid has taught us anything, is that we can’t take anything for granted and we need to protect our industries that are giving back, give back directly,” Rep. Timoney said.
He points to Kentucky’s deep roots in the horse racing industry. He says taking away one part affects it all.
So how can legislators bring it back?
They say it’s about making HHR fall under the appropriate guidelines in the state constitution.
“That’s going take legislative action. I’m prepared to do it. So are my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Sen. Thomas said.
But reminder, it’s a short session this year. Some like, Thomas are critical the Republican majority focused the first week of the session on gubernatorial powers instead.
“We have very limited time,” Rep. Timoney said. “We got to take care of the things that we need to do big picture wise, and then move into some of the some of the other issues that are also in a priority, but just a little bit farther down the list.”
In contrast to the Republican majority, Senator Thomas links pandemic economic relief to HHR.
“I wish we were dealing with this in the first week, it’s more of a priority to Kentuckians in terms of keeping jobs, raising revenue for the state. And, again, it is advancing our economic interest,” Sen. Thomas said.
Asked about the issue during his daily briefing Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear said he hopes lawmakers will act.
“I believe the Supreme Court was pretty clear. It just needs what I believe is a simple statutory fix and I hope the General Assembly will quickly pass it,” the governor said.