Expanded Gaming at Kentucky Racetracks

On June 22nd, a party-line vote in the Republican-heavy Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee killed legislation to authorize video lottery terminals at racetracks in Kentucky. The vote was 10-5, with one abstention. You can read the full story here

We want to hear from you. Do you agree with the Kentucky Senate's decision? What impact will the decision have on the Kentucky horse racing industry, as well as the industry as a whole? We invite you to participate in our poll and weigh in on the subject using the comment form below.


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Expanded gaming at race tracks sounds like a great place to start to save the horse racing industry.


Can we also check into please that Tennessee and Indiana are getting all of our alcohol dollars!  I live near the Tennessee line and everyone who wants to go "out" goes to Tennessee to spend their money!  What is wrong with this picture?

I am sure some of this missed alcohol money could be put back into our horse racing industry too.  

Is there a way to put some of the cigarette tax money into our horse racing industry?  Or any portion of the other taxes we have?  

I feel the "horse" industry in Kentucky is so very important to our State that we should do more work on saving it instead of letting Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee have money we should be receiving!

23 Jun 2009 10:33 AM

What are the states,Kentucky & Texas afraid of on passing the VLT's at the race tracks?  Don't they understand in a few more years all monies from other sources will be hard to find! (Slots,Betting on anything is gambling; even driving down the crowded road is a gamble, comeon people, wise up, if this is a choice of gain what is the problem!!!!!!!!!!

23 Jun 2009 10:58 AM
s lee

The horse racing industry needs KY and KY needs the horse racing industry.

BUT (and that's a big but), there are those in the legislature who feel the horse racing needs to clean its own stable (as it were) before asking the state for help.  That's an easy answer for the legislature, and one that could kill the industry, but they have a point.  How many times are stallions bred every year and how many "useful" offspring do they sire?  And do you determine "useful" to be race horses?  Here?  Overseas?  Or do you include jumpers and eventers?

Drugs - enough said.  Fix it.  And not just steroids and pain killers.

Racing horses so young they get hurt because they're underdeveloped.

Neglect of horses once they leave the track.

Whether these problems are real, or how extensive they are, the PERCEPTION is that horse industry has created part of its own problems.

Horse BREEDING in KY, not just racing, must put its best foot forward, and must make the case that the industry is good for the STATE and not just for the monied owners, AND that it's good for the horses, and the legislature might change its mind.

Step ONE - go find the no votes and the 1 abstainer and find out WHY they voted no.  What, exactly, are their concerns and how can the industry address them?

23 Jun 2009 11:10 AM
Bob Caito

The following senators voted against the bill: Charlie Borders, Bob Leeper (an Independent), Ernie Harris, Dan Kelly, Alice Forgy Kerr, Vernie McGaha, Brandon Smith, Bob Stivers, Gary Tapp, and Elizabeth Tori. ATTENTION ALL KENTUCKY HORSEPEOPLE: Remember these names when run for re-election. Send them the same message they sent to the KY horse industry--a resounding NO!

23 Jun 2009 11:27 AM

The Senate Presidents "plan" for bringing revenue to state is to increase taxes and borrow from other funds? How is THAT a good idea?

You do not need to tax or borrow while people are giving up their money FREELY with gaming. Seems like a no-brainer, apparantly the Senate Committee has NO BRAINS.

23 Jun 2009 11:43 AM

Very simple. It is not in the best interest of the opposing party to approve VLT's. It make's no differnce that it will vastly improve the economics of the racing and breeding industry in KY. If you want to see a real mess take a look at what is happening in NY.

23 Jun 2009 11:48 AM

I live at the mouth of the kentucky river,where it meets the ohio river.It would be a great place for a floating casino,but the new legislation would have forbidden it.14 miles up river in vevay indiana,the belterra casino & resort drags billions of dollars across the bridge.The same goes for places like louisville & paducah.& lets not forget the millions of people in eastern ky that have never seen a horse track & probably never will.Casino's could create job's anywhere in this state.The conglomerate that is churchill downs inc.does'nt care about any of this for 1 reason(monopoly)/the right decision was made!(casino's would not hurt horse racing in ky-just look @ presque ilse.indiana downs,mountaineer,new mexico etc.)

23 Jun 2009 12:05 PM
vet tech in ky

When will we learn that this is not just a matter of racing?  This affects every industry in KY.  Shop owners, car dealers, restaraunteurs, educators LISTEN UP!  If horses leave KY, so do the people that support your product.  This is not just a matter of green grass, this is an economic circle being ignored.  Having a button to push or a ticket to scratch, it is all money generated to benefit the STATE, not just the horses!

23 Jun 2009 12:05 PM

Kentucky horse farms might as well start plowing up the fields, planting vegetables, no one in their right mind will foal in Ky now.. other than the farm owners. Which means no one will be breeding back there.

24% breeders awards in La. Ohio moving for the slots, stallions at a fraction of the stud fee's, and really with horses like Lydgate, Yonaguska, Private Vow standing there. Boarding fees are half everywhere else.. vet bills are half everywhere else.. It's over.. Garlic anyone?

23 Jun 2009 12:10 PM
Shawn P

S Lee, Horse Racing can go elsewhere, and will. Breeders can and ARE already going elsewhere.

THIS is about the survival of the horse racing industry in KY not eventers or any of the rest of that stuff, please stop trying to mix the two. THEY are not interchangeable. Why divert the focus of the issue at hand?

The other issues you bring up? Not relevant in this particular discussion. THAT sounds like the legislators who are trying to say gambling is detrimental to the moral fiber, when GAMBLING already exists. In a state that distills whiskey, grows tobacco and had another health threatening industry in coal mining.

VLT's raise purses, improve quality of horses in the RACING INDUSTRY, people want to run at the better purses it's already gambling, people can and WILL find it to do, no matter where it is.

23 Jun 2009 12:24 PM
out of state breeder

Our mares and offspring will be moving north to become PA-Breds

23 Jun 2009 12:49 PM

Expanding gaming in areas which have access to gaming, is ultimately a tax on the poor, and I'm not sure that is the best and most ethical way to fund racing.  If the racetracks interest is in helping the industry, not just their own bottom lines, they would support expanded gaming with open bidding for licenses.  This would allow casino operators to come in and operate.  KY could then follow the Indiana model of requiring some portion of casino revenue being directed to support racing and purses.  In the end expanded gaming does not address the problems in KY racing, it merely provides a short term influx of revenue to companies who operate race tracks.  Racing should stand or fail on its own merits.  Turfway Park is a bad facility, offering night racing in the winter, not something people are going to beat your door to get to.  Ellis Park is a bad facility and not closely located to other tracks on the KY circuit.  Churchill and Keeneland have good facilities, good racing and can survive, not at 1970s levels, but survive. The sport has done a terrible job of working together, done a worse job of reaching out to new customers and failed to provide standardized handicapping data that is easy understand.  TOBA has seminars to recruit new owners, who is making effort to recruit new race fans and gamblers?  As a fan it pains me to see the demise, but the reality is the market does not want the product currently being offered.    

23 Jun 2009 12:58 PM
Farm Manager

We need to get serious. I have race track friends making plans to leave state last night. Now is the time for major breeders  to start selling or moving mares to other states.I am talking major players. Let the conservative lawmakers stay here in their own debt. What they offer is not possible. IT would further hurt our industry. Taxing outside players we will lose the out of state heavy hitters. My job is now officially at risk. Unemployment will now be on the rise. If horses leave KY. Then so will alot of money spent in other business. WE must see that all that voted no be voted out of office. Clearly they are more concerned about party than people.

23 Jun 2009 12:59 PM

Look to your republican friends for the answer,How long will it take for the people to realize, that GOP doesn't give ahoot about this,those terminals will generate money for the industry,not their pockets,so it will continue to get voted down until the GOP gets voted out,which is what should happen if you want the Industry to survive,It seems that other states horse industry is doing pretty good with VLT,

23 Jun 2009 2:42 PM
Shawn P

Farm Manager, you are correct.

Several said they'd have to make decisions, others said they would be gone if it failed. These are guys who train at CHURCHILL DOWNS, say their owners have stayed around because they're doing it as a favor to them, but they can't continue.

Barn66, how do you figure it's taxation of the poor?

The other proposals being put forth by Williams and his ilk ARE taxation of the poor.

Those people who are 'poor' and the ones claimed 'most likely' to be playing the VLT's are now going across the river to IN to play. Next when Ohio gets the initiative passed, those close to Ohio will be doing the same. This isn't just Turfway and Ellis we're talking about here.

The tracks can't get VLT's how in the heck do you think their 'support' can bring casino's to KY?

Short term? Well, it's been at Oaklawn for a while and it absolutely revived New Mexico racing over the last 10 years. Increasing purses 8 fold. It isn't like this is something that hasn't been tried and has failed. It's worked wherever it's been done in the last number of years. PURSES are what brings quality horses and full fields, not history and ambiance.

This isn't the racing of old where the beauty of the game attracts people. It's very difficult to attract younger people who are all about instant gratification, action and full on entertainment. I know, I'm one of them, who against the grain, has the patience to sit for 30 minutes between races, study the form, visit with friends, watch the horses in the paddock etc. MOST aren't.

The economy isn't helping matters, but people are going to gamble, they just are. It's something for those who don't necessarily like the races or the waiting around aspect. Tourists will do it, it's been proven in other locales. It isn't the locals gambling at Sunland Park, Zia or Ruidoso Downs, it's tourists and people from neighboring states. NONE of those places have enough locals to support much of anything.

23 Jun 2009 3:03 PM

I can't see video gaming being a positive alternative to the financial crisis in racing in Kentucky.  It's already a poorer state, and government should be creating solid jobs and industries, not "video gaming for the poor", because that is who is mostly going to be playing it.  Also, this same betting crowd doesn't give a fig about horse racing.  There is a good article in a past issue of Blood Horse on the gentleman who was trying to buy Hialeah, and restore it to it's former glory days, and creating a popular family destination.  (check out the article.)  He said that VLT's are "utterly corrosive".  Kentucky should not try to get the poor people to part with the little money they have with these gaming terminals.  I love racing, and want it to grow and thrive, and worry about the declining attendance.  But there have to be other ways to generate revenue besides VLT's.  Huge marketing strategies need to be implemented on a national scale, like they do for other sports, and make the whole racing event a family destination.  During spring break, we drove to Florida for the first time, and at the welcome center, there was only one small flyer with two paragraphs in the whole building advertising horse racing in Florida.  This was at Florida Derby time!  The clerk looked puzzled and confirmed that, no, they didn't have any travel leaflets (out of the thousands they carried) on Florida racing!  This with all these people milling around there just looking for a place to visit.  We need to find some real, healthy and long term solutions to the racing financial crisis, and they need to come from the real world, not video gaming halls.  Otherwise, thoroughbred racing might as well as go back to being the sport of kings, not the sport of supporting the claiming industry.

23 Jun 2009 3:06 PM
Ted from LA

Kentucky legislators are playing Russian Roulette only they have 5 bullets in the chamber instead of just one.  How can they not see the writing on the wall with it's horse racing industry?  Will the last horse leaving Kentucky please kick off the lights?

23 Jun 2009 3:30 PM

I sit here and read these articles and see one commonality with those opposing installation of VLT's in our Bluegrass tracks....every one of you talks about the fact that it will effect the poor. Do you think ONLY the poor gamble? Whether it be on horse racing or through VLT's, there is an even smattering of wagering from all of the socio-economic groups within The Commonwealth. To sit and believe it will ONLY effect the poor is a ridiculous outlook. Do you think only Hoosiers visit the casinos in Indiana? No. They get visitors from Ohio, Kentucky AND Indiana. What about the effect on our signature industry? As a former owner of horses, I can attest to the importance of this issue. Our horseman are basically being forced to take their strings of horses elsewhere for financial reasons. If you can only run your horse every three to four weeks, you have to make certain to place them in a race that will afford the owner and trainer the best possibility of, at the very LEAST, covering their expenses for the month. Kentucky purses, field sizes, stables, number of races have all experienced declines over the past two to three years. Our bordering states are offering richer purses and luring away our industry. Our Representatives need to step back and offer something other than MORE taxes! Are we not already taxed nearly 35% of our income? The LAST thing we need are more taxes or increased take out rates. C'mon guys...WAKE UP!

23 Jun 2009 3:40 PM
Joseph E. Intine

The benefit of VLT's to the people which include all forms of health research, taxtion, infrastructure support, the horse industry at large, and the positive economic spin off that accompanies VLT's couldn't be more evident than it is in the Province of Ontario. If the Republicans needed a role model to study there it was for them, however the truth "which most republicans wouldn't know if they fell over it--- is that the party at large have their heads in a very dark maloderous place and need to remove their obsessive control dogma & do what is right for the people of Kentucky for a change! To stop the legislation from being put to a vote by a small jaded committee should lead to the impeachment of those representatives responsible! I am absolutely stunned that the people in the great State of Kentucky are at risk of being cheated out of their future by a few carpetbagger Republicans using religous based sentiment as a vehicle to spout their nonsense. God helps those who help themselves, and in this instance this committee is running direct interference in order to stop the people from helping themselves...shame on them & shame on the Republican party.  

23 Jun 2009 3:40 PM
Horse Trainer

Bye Bye Kentucky...Hello, Indiana, West Virgina and Pennsylvania

P.S. Thanks, but no thanks guys...Charlie Borders, Bob Leeper (an Independent), Ernie Harris, Dan Kelly, Alice Forgy Kerr, Vernie McGaha, Brandon Smith, Bob Stivers, Gary Tapp, and Elizabeth Tori.

23 Jun 2009 3:49 PM

I have been ashamed of Kentucky law makers understanding for years. Now they are making the most serious mistake ever. Kentucky without horses, watch it happen.

Any body want to buy the horse park?

23 Jun 2009 3:50 PM

i am all for VLT supporting the racing industry but i'm not in favor of 60-70% going to the tracks....what happened to education, roads, police etc? that's quite a lot of money. most states are under 50% and are way ahead of the game !!

23 Jun 2009 4:51 PM

I can't see why no one sees the difference between casino style gambling and paramutual gambling. To say that we have to have casino gambling to support horses is ludicrous. To say that we have to have casino gambling to support paramutual gambling means that paramutual gambling is doomed anyway. If it can't support itself, let gambling die. The horses will continue to live.

23 Jun 2009 5:16 PM
Shawn P

Maggie, just how do you propose KY creates jobs? It's ranked at the very BOTTOM of attracting industry.

Now why do you imagine that is?

Tax structure, work force, many things plays into that and you can't just import a whole new population and workforce.

I've been to tracks where they have VLT's, it's dang sure not poor people in there gambling. It's well dressed people who have money to spare. Disposable income, might as well dispose of it at the race track where it helps increase the purses.

You think this state is poor now? Just wait until these people pull up stakes and move out. I have a guy who lives near me, a trainer. He has a high dollar house that I'm sure he paid a bundle for and pays property tax on no doubt. I KNOW he uses a multitude of services in Louisville and I guarantee there are a bunch more just like him. Those associated with racing, now buy homes where they spend most of their time, not like the old days. When they pull up stakes put those houses up for sale, a real estate glut occurs, people lose the jobs they DO have. Those in the service industries, including health care and education have a lesser # of clients and students, it all goes in the toilet.

On Hialeah?  "On March 2009, it was announced that current track owner John Brunetti was awarded a racing permit. A $40-$90 Million restoration project is set to start within the next year.

On May 7, 2009 the Florida legislature agreed to a deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would allow Hialeah Park to operate slot machines and run Quarter Horse races"

Have you ever BEEN to a race track with VLT's?  Have you ever BEEN to Vegas?

The same kind of crowd that was at CD last Friday is what you find there. It isn't increased betting on the races, that's a byproduct. Better purses, better horses, more people who DO like racing seeing a better product a few young slot players betting on the horses for the heck of it then liking it?

It's all gambling, if you want it to be about the beauty of the horse, it's not going to be that way.

23 Jun 2009 5:31 PM

Ellis Park is just upriver from an Evansville casino. My wife and I, who live in another state, like to visit that soy bean field at least once a year. We also try to visit Churchill Downs and Keeneland whenever we get the chance. We enjoy every trip we take to the Kentucky Horse Park and Old Friends. We spend money on each visit. Not just on the horses, but I'm a big fan of Kentucky Bourbon and stock up every trip. But it's the horses that bring us there since I can buy bourbon at the corner store, and often for less money. Business is a primary building block of any state's economy. The purpose of government is to provide a proper environment in which businesses can thrive. It is business that generates jobs. I know there are casinos in  Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and West Virginia, all of which border Kentucky. I am not familiar with the status of casinos in other Kentucky neighbors. But there is plenty of competition for the gaming dollar. If Kentucky wishes a piece of that pie, its republican senators better wake up before it's pointless to close the barn door. I thought republicans were supposed to be business friendly. Personally, I am not a big fan of the donkey politicians, but on this issue they are correct. Exactly why I never vote a straight party ticket. Ellis might not survive beyond this year. Kiss those jobs good-bye, Henderson. Turfway may not survive beyond 2010. Kiss those jobs good-bye, Florence. Churchill has already reduced its racing dates. When trainers no longer have a Kentucky circuit on which to race, even Keeneland and Churchill will feel the loss. All Kentuckians should consider the plight of Illinois' Fairmount Park near St. Louis area casinos and the fate of Kansas' The Woodlands near Kansas City which was killed by an increase in state taxes. Kentucky Racing, that is your future.

23 Jun 2009 6:11 PM

Kentucky is about to lose its title and heritage if lawmakers don't wise up.

23 Jun 2009 6:22 PM

As an owner in WV, I benefit greatly from the state's legalization of slots and now table games. Quite frankly, without slots, there would be no racing or breeding in WV. Thanks to slots, we have a breeder's program with over $1,000,000 in purse incentives, major improvements to all tracks, big time stakes races (including Mine that Bird at the WV Derby).

So slots are easy money and will improve racing.

However, with slots come three potential problems that I see.

1. The slot money is not unlimited. PA and MD now have slots which impacts us and Ohio will soon have slots which will impact KY. Soon, nearly every state will have slots, and many will have full table games, Keno, and Indian Casinos. Thus, each state's take of the slots money will go down. Unfortuneately, once the slot money starts flowing, all common sense seems to go out the window and everyon thinks the goose will lay golden eggs forever. That can make for some horrible decisions by the people in charge.

2. The casino people don't care about horse racing. With slots, horse racing is simply a price, a tax really, to be paid for the right to run the slot machines. In WV, nearly every major initiative horsemen propose is rejected by the casino owners who either don't know or care about the horse side of their properties. To them, we are a drain on their profits, nothing more. In WV, each year the casino operators lobby the state to let them drop racing. They say "look, the slots have proven that they really aren't that bad for the community, so why not just let us run them without having to prop up the racing game, which no one really cares about anyway." Expect operators in every state to start lobbying like this and eventually win some of these fights to shut down racing.

3. This is the big one. When you are getting tens of thousands of dollars a week for free from the slots, there is little incentive to truly improve the product. Innovative ideas like the night racing at CD are less likely to happen if track managers know they are getting free checks each month. Why make the effort? Why even try to develop new fans? Why even care how many fans you have at all? Its like living on welfare and realzing that you don't need to work to get you money. Not good for the long term.

Again, I benefit from slots in WV. However, I also fear for the long term health of the industry and fear that serious problems are being glossed over by the big checks from the slot side of the house.

I wish you well in Kentucky, but also wish you a bit of caution.

23 Jun 2009 6:23 PM

IMO...I think that Now, it's a real Race.  

A race between Kentucky and Ohio to see who gets it first.

If Ohio now gets it first then Yes, Kentucky Racing can be hurt by it.   Kentucky's Breeding side of the business probably won't be hurt, but Yes the Racing side can be hurt by this setback.  

But, if it still fails in Ohio (because it's not quite a given there just yet) and Kentucky can still end up getting it first, then Ohio will die off completely and Kentucky Racing can be Re-Ignited again.

So, Now it's a real Horse Race with the highest Stakes of all..."Survival" !!!

23 Jun 2009 6:36 PM

VLT's might be good for the race tracks and the state, but the vast majority of people will lose money.

Tracks need to run more night racing. Bring in the people who work the day shift. Cater to the younger crowd.

And last, how about a better pay out. It's always been 2 times the odds + $2.00 back on the win bet. How about 2 1/2 times the odds. Nothing is ever given to the people who bet. When they raise the purses, the only people who benefit are owners, trainers, and jockeys.

23 Jun 2009 7:33 PM
Jim B

It appears that the Kentucky lawmakers have attended the Maryland lawmakers school of how to destroy a horse industry.

Many will argue that the racing industry should support itself, and on a perfectly level playing field, perhaps it should and could. But with neighboring states enhancing purses (substantially) with gaming proceeds, its a matter of getting on the bus or getting left behind.

23 Jun 2009 7:44 PM

Look, gaming is what got Mine That Bird to the Kentucky Derby.

Its all that's left to secure the future of horse racing, anywhere, except Dubai.

23 Jun 2009 8:14 PM

Kentucky, help yourself!! Don't let your signature industry and number one crop slide down the drain. And stop trying to save people from themselves. Stop thumping and take a look around neighboring states whose race tracks are thriving with the addition of VLTs. We're considering retiring in Western Kentucky. When we get at that point,I hope the current small-minded politicians will have been replaced with savvy, open-minded ones.  

23 Jun 2009 9:14 PM
Elaine K

Political power mongering under

the hypocrisy of religious self-

righteousness and irrelevant banter.

These are the people that are ruling the country. Knowledge of

the situation is either non-existent or flagrantly ignored.

They cater on what plays to their

own self interest. Michigan is

experiencing the same incredulous

(outward stupidity) while the real

issue is simply power and greed.

Despite the facts they are continually trying to destroy the

Thoroughbred industry. e.g."cancel

all the througbred dates to balance

the budget by taking away the ORC JOBS."

Is there anyone HOME?????

23 Jun 2009 9:32 PM

Maggie, your having pipe dreams if you think thats what will save racing. To think that the vlt's pray on the poor is is just stupid.  Why worry about it, people should have the right to spend their money how they choose and they are just going to go to your neighboring states to spend their money. Wouldn't you rather have that money pumped back into the state to create revenue and jobs.

23 Jun 2009 9:41 PM

Ive been in the t/b industry for 30 years (breeder owner trainer )KENTUCKY horsemen and woman are very very tough individuals.They will get the slots at the tracks .As for the political reps who voted against it ,Forest gump said it best   STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES

23 Jun 2009 10:43 PM

Let the people decide, put it out there and let the people vote on it.

23 Jun 2009 11:42 PM
Barry Irwin

Rather than wasting any further time trying to get slots, racetracks should focus on making their product more appealing to those people that support the game in the stands and at the windows. If the product is good enough, the game will be fine. If it isn't then perhaps it doesn't deserve to survive. Racing can thrive when properly promoted. Look at Royal Ascot, Saratoga and Keeneland, and Churchill Downs during Derby week.

24 Jun 2009 1:08 AM

Maybe the sad truth is Horse racing is over, as a sport, as an industry.

Kids today have no idea what it's like to gallop your pony across a field, urging her on for more speed, wind in your eyes, the rhythm and sound of the legs hitting the ground, the feel of her back, muscles stretching for more. Sit in a stall in the early morninh, listening to your horse breath, hear her munch hay.. wait 11 months for that totally exciting moment of new life.

Nope kids of today live in their rooms playing x box.. It's a hard truth to face, but it could be over, completely over..

24 Jun 2009 1:22 AM

Thanks Shamfan for recognizing the other states such as Illinois and Kansas and what tax increases did to them. As a resident of Kansas I was only 20min from the Woodlands and enjoyed going out there on the weekends for horse racing/dog racing/simulcast. I am by no means rich but I could go out there with $30 to $50 and have fun all day where as a dinner and a movie would cost me the same or more depending on where your having dinner, for maybe 3/4 hrs.  Oh, But If I Choose to GAMBLE My Morality Is At Stake. I am so tired of this, it will hurt the poor thing.  If states want to protect the poor from something thats harmful why don't they look at all those pay day loan companies. They do more damage than people going to casinos and playing slots.  Why should it matter how I SPEND MY MONEY!!!

24 Jun 2009 2:44 AM

Have we not learned anything over time?  Morality CAN NOT be legislated!

24 Jun 2009 3:05 AM

I think the industry needs to improve their product. Slot machines have nothing to do about the horse and everything about fattening an already fat wallet. Improve the product and the fans will come. I grew up watching the horses from the 70's race and I can tell you people who had never set foot on a track. Knew who Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Ruffian, Spectacular  Bid, and Forego were. Has today's industry leaders not learned anything from history? You have to understand history to understand where you're going and slot machines is not the answer. It's about the horse!!!!!

24 Jun 2009 9:08 AM
Soldier Course

s lee:

You have listed a number of areas where reform is needed in the racing industry. But you are kidding yourself if you think that the members of the Kentucky legislature are motivated by reforms. They couldn't care less. They're politicians. They're motivated by votes, period. If all of your reform goals were achieved next week, it wouldn't make a bit of difference to these people.

24 Jun 2009 9:26 AM
Richard R

Note to MrsC:

I live in Tennessee.  We have the highest sales tax (9.75% including local add-ons) which includes food, in the country.  Only drugs and medicine are exempt.  And, I'm told that our liquor tax is among the highest too.  Whenever I go to Georgia, I buy wine for $8.99 bottle that I pay $11.99 bottle in Tennessee.  

The only saving grace is that we have no state income tax.  

24 Jun 2009 9:41 AM

This state is run by a bunch of moral hypocrites. I do not see the difference between gambling at the slot machine or playing the lottery. And where has the assumption come from that only poor people play slots? You can buy a lottery ticket on every street corner but you'd have to go to a track to play slots. And the people that go to the track for slots may just become a horse fan, and that would help racing. This silliness applies to alcohol sales as well. Having dry counties is not "saving" anyone from themselves. They just drive to where they can buy it. Think of the taxes they are missing out on that could probably solve the budget deficit. Idiots!

24 Jun 2009 10:27 AM
Shawn P

All of you talking about marketing this to younger people, improving the product and making people WANT to come to the track?

How OLD are YOU?

(Or aren't horse crazy and 'love' anything to do with horses.)

I'm under 25 and I can tell you what draws 90% of my friends to the track. Action. Without it you get what you are seeing right now.

Why do you think the video game generation loves computers, IPhones (they sold a million of the things last weekend when the new ones came out) and gadgets of all kinds? (People standing in line for HOURS for XBox's and WII's weren't little kids or their parents as much as it was 20 somethings). It's all about excitement and continuous action.

Like I said before, very few of my friends will sit there for 30 minutes between racing. But if that time frame isn't there, how do you get the track ready for the next race, get all the bets in and for the true racing fan study the horses and the form? The new automated ticket seller machines help in some places but most don't cash your tickets.

Why did CD have such a big Fri Nite crowd, Cheap BOOZE, a unique situation, bands and constant action.

It's not a very admirable quality in some people's minds, but that's a fact, we're action junkies.

Now if you guys think 'long term' is 50 years, well no it hasn't been proven that VLT's help.

If you're speaking of 10-15 years?

Look no further than NM as Chip Wooley said, "it saved NM horse racing". Who knows if it will continue for years? What we do know is without 'something', especially when the surrounding states are going with it, then we're doomed in the shortrun, there will be no LONG TERM.

24 Jun 2009 10:59 AM

One of the resaons WAL-MART is so successful is they have a store almost everywhere.

How much money is leaving the state of KY going to IL,IN casinos or online ?

24 Jun 2009 11:07 AM

There is very little logic in politics and even less altruism by our policy makers. In their world, the most important issue is the next election.

24 Jun 2009 11:39 AM

You want action? Go to Vegas. Why has the racing industry forgotten that Horseracing is a sport not a casino game? How many VLT's do you see at Yankee Stadium or Soldier's Field or Rupp Arena? I have nothing against sports betting. What I do object to are mindless, rigged machines that require absolutely no intelligence.

It is racing management that are most responsible for the state that racing is in and like the banks, auto manufacturers and insurance companies, they are looking for the taxpayer to bail them out. The entire world is in deflation and mismanaged businesses are going under. It's just is a harsh reality. There are too many racetracks and too many horses and I believe a contraction will, in the long run, create better racing. US racing needs to look at the European model, which (by the way)is thriving. We need a central authority, universal rules and no drugs of any kind, but what we don't need is a marketing campaign that promotes adrenaline junkies who call horses by number and have no sense of tradition and history.

24 Jun 2009 12:07 PM

Slots HAVE saved New Mexico racing, no doubt about it. We run here and have for years. We could see it slipping away. 2 tracks closed and several were on the verge. Now, two of the tracks that closed, campaigned for the one spot to reopen. The one that didn't get the one open spot is trying again.

For a time it seemed like people were bringing horses out of their back yard to run and the quality of stock was really bad, equal to the bad purses. THAT is when we started losing our patrons and fanbase. It's taken years to start to build that fan base back up. We now can provide an 'experience' for people. Not just the horses, which doesn't seem to attract people with a storybook feel like it did when we were a different type of population.

With all kinds of vacation experiences out there, we have to offer more than one thing. So VLT's and more hype on the things to do while you're in town to visit the track is what seems to be working for us.

Maybe the fact that people like to gamble here helps. We have oodles of Indian Casino's as well as at every track, year round. People develop their favorites and return over and over. Have heard many comments like "why go to Vegas? the casinos here are as nice as theirs. or, I can gamble and watch live racing here, go to a casino nearby for table gaming, it's what I like to do so this works perfectly."  

We have a state supported counseling service for problem gambling.

One tribe fought gambling for years, then realized that their mortality rate, education rate and quality of services and life all compared unfavorably to the tribes WITH gambling so they jumped on board.

A lot of our gambling is accounted for by tourist, either passing through on route 66 or with our state as their destination.  

It can work. With the right management in place, marketing and actually using the proceeds to enhance purses.

(We also have lottery, scratch ticket lottery, Bingo and our Casino's have table games)

On the tax thing? We paid tax through the nose before, still do except now no food tax or tax on prescription drugs.

But we pay 6.75-7.2% sales tax.

Gross Receipts Tax on Dr visits.

Gasoline Tax: 18.0 cents/gallon

Diesel Fuel Tax: 19.0 cents/gallon

Cigarette Tax: 91 cents/pack of 20

State income tax, property tax, conservancy tax, livestock tax. You name it we pay it.

24 Jun 2009 12:28 PM
Wilson M

We in New Mexico faced a similar situation a number of years ago; however, the NM legislature did the right thing.  Indian gaming had moved into the state on a large scale and the race tracks were in a totally non-competitive position.  Most tracks were on the verge of closing and thousands of employees were about to lose their jobs. The anti slot people used the old tired slogans that slots will bring in an undesirable element and of course they had to drag out a few people who lost everything gambling. They failed to mention that the Indian Tribes had 1000's of slots as well as table games all within 5 to 10 miles from the track.  The NM legislature approved 600 slot machines be allowed at each race track and they were limited to @ 12 hours per day to operate.  No table games etc. were allowed. Racing is now going strong in NM and the state is raking in income from the slots.  Mine that Bird is proof positive that slots do work.  Sunland Park is one of the tracks that was dying a slow death prior to the slots.

24 Jun 2009 12:45 PM

Charles Borders represents me...allof my friends will donate to his opponent...it was close last time...slots may not please everyone but until a better idea...why not...jobs...tourism...please send questionaires to OTBS and tracks....we love the sport and there are some great ideas from the two dollar players

24 Jun 2009 2:49 PM

From my understanding Rocker, its the legistlators in Kentucky that are going to try a tax bailout.

The tracks want REVENUE generating VLT's, which will PAY tax to the STATE, not take it away.  Not everyone can go to Vegas and guess what? If you like LIVE racing, there is none.

Addctive personalities are just that. They will be addicted to one thing or another, whether that's gambling, overeating, smoking, drinking whatever. I think what the VLT's attract 90% of the time is a casual fan, looking for something fun to do on a weekend without driving 9-17 hours or paying for an expensive airline ticket.

BUT, those in KY can go to Indiana for the gambling experience whether it's once a week, once a month or whatever, that's lost revenue for KY.

Not sure if any of you live in these states, but I think if people don't LIVE in a state that is directly affected by the VLT, the gaming of any kind, they really shouldn't speak on the subject.

24 Jun 2009 5:40 PM

It is one thing to vote against a legislative proposal or bill for a rational, pragmatic reason where there is factual support for the opposition.  None of that exists here.  Those voting against the VLTs are obviously driven by groundless emotion and irrational behavior.  It is a sad, sad day for Kentucky and for its horse racing industry to recognize that the future of this tradition, culture and tens of thousands of jobs can be put in the hands of six (swing vote) individuals.  I live in Indiana and I have been a regular at Hoosier Park since it opened and I have seen first hand the "before and after".  I doubt that anyone casting a vote can attest to having similar facts.  I can state without the slightest hesitation that the HP facility and the patrons have improved significantly after getting slot machines as compared to the "before".  Better restaurants, more dining options,a cleaner facility, more women, more elderly, more fun, special entertainment (the Beach Boys are coming), etc.  Too bad the six swing voters didn't have the benefit of this real-world experience before trashing the future of Kentucky racing.  I am also a horse owner in partnership with a Kentucky breeder.  I have been to tracks all over the country and cannot tell any difference between slots and no-slots except for the hundreds of millions that flow to that state and to its racing industry.  As much fun as Kentucky is, the purses are better elsewhere and elsewhere is where we must go.  Indiana used to be the outcast of the Midwest with its antiquated "blue laws" and backwards rules and regulations.  Welcome Kentucky, you can now take over the top spot.

24 Jun 2009 8:54 PM

Sorry, my prior message should have said three (3) swing votes instead of six (6).  Never too good at math.

24 Jun 2009 8:57 PM

Horseracing's great in Indiana. Kentucky Legislature keep up the good work. We love your money.

28 Jun 2009 9:29 PM

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