Senator: Bill coming to preserve historical racing games

January 28, 2021 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Legislation is being prepared to preserve historical racing operations that serve as a crucial revenue source for Kentucky’s horse tracks, a key Senate committee chairman said Thursday.

Republican Sen. John Schickel said he will introduce the measure when lawmakers resume their 2021 session next Tuesday. It will be come up two days later in the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee, said Schickel, who is the committee’s chairman.

Senate President Robert Stivers will co-sponsor the bill, Schickel said.

The fate of historical racing could become contentious for Republicans who dominate the Kentucky House and Senate. The bill will seek to put the betting operations on solid legal ground.


The state’s horse racing industry is looking to lawmakers to resolve the issue in their favor. Last year, the state Supreme Court ruled that at least some forms of historical race wagering don’t meet pari-mutuel wagering standards under Kentucky law. Racing interests asked the high court to reconsider, but the court said recently it would not rehear the case.

The Family Foundation, a conservative group opposed to expanded gambling, has long argued that historical horse racing machines do not meet the law’s standards.

In Lexington, a historical racing venue operated jointly by Keeneland and Red Mile, which have racetracks, closed temporarily “until there is more clarity surrounding the situation,” they said.

Historical racing features slots-style machines allowing people to bet on randomly generated, past horse races. The games typically show video of condensed horse races.

It’s become a lucrative venture for tracks. Historical horse racing has pumped money into race purses and breed development funds to put Kentucky tracks on more solid footing in competing with tracks and horse breeding operations in other states.

Schickel said his legislation will be about “maintaining the status quo.” The bill, he said, will seek to ensure that historical horse racing facilities “are able to continue operating, while employing Kentuckians, generating state tax revenue and strengthening our signature equine industry.”

The Family Foundation has said it will oppose legislation to preserve historical race wagering. It says such wagering drains money from the poor to benefit deep-pocketed racing interests.