Video slot debate at Kentucky tracks
Is Kentucky's horse racing industry dying? That was the topic of a discussion Wednesday at the Louisville forum with horse industry leaders.
"The way I read it, the Governor's bill was a bad bill," says Ed Flint, the past President of the Kentucky National Benevolent and Protective Association. He was just one of the speakers at the luncheon.
Flint is happy the slots bill for rack tracks did not pass in the special session. He says slots are not the answer to the horse industry's problem of horses leaving for other tracks because of bigger purses. But others, like Churchill Downs disagree.
Bob Evans, the CEO and President of Churchill Downs Incorporated says "We don't need to reinvent the wheel on this thing." He says the past bill was a good bill, but he's hoping it will be voted on in the full Senate. Republican Senator David Williams was a major opponent to the bill which died after a senate committee hearing.
Evans says even though night racing was successful in its three nights, it's not an answer to the purse problem. He says night racing every night of the year wouldn't make up for the huge purses at other tracks that horses are leaving for.
Churchill Downs says it may decide in the next couple of months whether or not to make night racing permanent. Evans says the track must look at the cost of marketing the events and making it new again, and there is a capital expense to put the lights in.
Evans says, "It's probably between $3 million on the low end and $6 and $7 million on the upper end depending on what you choose to light."
In the meantime, what to do about the horse racing industry continues to be debated.