by Jacqueline Pitts
In an effort to protect Kentucky jobs and economic investment, Sen. John Schickel announced plans Thursday to introduce a bill to preserve historical horse racing operations in the state.
Schickel, the chairman of the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee, said he will file the bill when the Kentucky General Assembly convenes for the second part of the 2021 legislative session on Tuesday, Feb. 2, and that Senate President Robert Stivers will be among the bill’s co-sponsors in the Senate.
“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,” Schickel said. “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.”
The bill is in response to a Kentucky Supreme Court decision in September 2020 that ruled historical horse racing, which has been operating in the Commonwealth for nearly a decade, did not fit the state’s current definition of parimutuel wagering, putting it at the hands of the legislature to clarify the definition.
“We applaud Chairman Schickel, President Stivers, and all those working on this legislation to help one of Kentucky’s signature industries,” said Ashli Watts, President, and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “This bill will provide certainty for many Kentucky businesses and employees relying on the success of the horse industry to make a living and feed their families, and we ask all legislators for their support in this effort.”
The horse industry is responsible for more than 60,000 direct and indirect jobs in Kentucky and $5.2 billion in economic impact statewide. The historical racing alone employs more than 1,400 Kentuckians in seven cities and has already contributed more than $52 million to the state’s general fund with an additional $45 million paid annually through direct and payroll benefits.
Schickel said he plans on hearing the bill in a Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee meeting on Thursday, Feb. 4.