Kentucky legislators have passed legislation to protect the legal status of historical horse racing (HHR) equipment, a vital source of income for the flagship sector of the state.
According to the Associated Press, the Kentucky House on Thursday passed a bill that enables historical horse racing to come under the definition of pari-mutuel betting and sent it to Gov. Andy Beshear to sign into law. The governor, who is regarded as a supporter of gambling, praised the bill and said he would sign it.
By a 55-38 vote the Senate Bill 120 was passed in the House. It was followed on Tuesday by a 22-15 vote in the Senate that sent it to the House for consideration.
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in September that the machines did not count as pari-mutuel wagering and, in January, refused to review its decision. After the decision, Beshear and state lawmakers said that they would seek legislation to make sure the devices were legal.
Lifeline for horse racing industry
Historical racing has become a lifeline for the horse racing industry in Kentucky, which does not have casinos. In the state’s last fiscal year, more than $2 billion was wagered on the computers, according to AP.
Kentucky is home to the crown jewel of the Triple Crown of horse racing, the Kentucky Derby. It scheduled to be run this year in its regular first Saturday in May place (May 1) after firstly being moved to September last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. In an upset, Authentic won the 2020 race.
With the state legislature giving priority to saving the machines, it is unlikely that this session, which ends March 30th, will have time to discuss legalising sports betting. State lawmakers passed a budget last year that did not include income from sports betting.
About Historical Racing for Horses
Historical horse racing enables bettors to wager on races that have already happened that are randomly generated. The terminals look like computers with slots.
Instead of horse names, dates and times of the race, bettors get a list of horses with numbers and can access handicap information. Pedigrees, pace, speed, earnings, trainer and jockey data can be sought by Bettors.
The terminals provide users with slot machine-like entertainment since the races took place in the past and have already been determined. The devices obey pari-mutuel laws regulating the racing of horses.
Tax rate on HHR
According to AP, some lawmakers this week called for a higher tax rate on historical horse racing in Kentucky.
In a statement Thursday night, Beshear said that state racetracks had offered commitments during the legislative session to “enact a more fair and equitable tax structure,” AP reported.
For their part, some leaders of the horse racing industry said that, according to a statement given to media outlets Thursday night, they will “work constructively to revise and raise the tax structure on historical racing machines, including consideration of a fair and equitable graduated tax structure.”