After a heated floor debate Tuesday afternoon, the Senate passed a bill that would keep historical horse racing in Kentucky by a vote of 22-15, sending the measure on to the House of Representatives. The next morning, the House Licensing and Occupations Committee passed the legislation.
Senate Bill 120, sponsored by Senator John Schickel, will allow historical horse racing operations to continue at the state’s licensed horse tracks. The legislation is in response to a Kentucky Supreme Court decision made in September of 2020 that threatened the legality of historic horse racing in Kentucky.
More than 1,400 jobs across the Commonwealth have been created in recent years as a direct result of historic horse racing, with companies investing nearly $1 billion in facilities in Kentucky.
Damon Thayer, a longtime champion for pro-horse racing issues, said that historic horse racing has allowed Kentucky to remain competitive with surrounding states.
In the House committee hearing, advocates emphasized there are 60,000 people that rely on the industry and many operations won’t survive without the purse money that comes in large part from the revenue generated by historical horse racing.
The legislation mainly adds to the statute the classic principles of pari-mutuel wagering and addresses issues seen by the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Senate Bill 120 now moves to the full House for a vote on the floor.