Representatives of Kentucky’s signature equine industry testified before the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Monday in favor of legislation to keep Kentucky’s historical horse racing facilities intact.
Among those testifying in favor of historical horse racing and its economic impact on Kentucky was Ashli Watts, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
In her testimony, Watts pointed to the 1,400 jobs and $45 million paid annually in payroll and benefits as a direct result of historical horse racing, which leads to approximately $100 million in state and local taxes and nearly $1 billion in private investment in the Commonwealth.
“As a result of the recent Supreme Court decision, businesses that were already planning to invest millions of dollars in our communities and create even more jobs are now operating in a world of uncertainty, which is something no industry wants,” Watts said. “We’re counting on the General Assembly to take action so that these businesses – which are so important to our economic growth and development – are able to continue investing in our Commonwealth.”
Historical horse racing is a form of wagering instituted by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in 2010 under the administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear. A recent Kentucky Supreme Court opinion said that at least one type of historical horse racing did not meet the statutory definition of parimutuel wagering.
Industry members also presenting in favor of historical horse racing legislation were Braxton Lynch of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Doug Cauthen of the Kentucky Equine Education Project, Mike Ziegler of Churchill Downs, and Bill Lear of Keeneland Association.
Representatives from the Family Foundation of Kentucky, the organization originally challenging the legality of historical horse racing in the courts, testified in opposition at Monday’s hearing.