Overview of Kentucky Gaming Law
Pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing still generates the lion's share of gaming revenues in Kentucky, in spite of the presence of a state lottery as well as charitable gaming. Louisville's world famous Churchill Downs, Keeneland in Lexington, Northern Kentucky's Turfway Park and Ellis Park in Henderson are the state's primary thoroughbred tracks; standardbreds race at the Red Mile in Lexington and Prestonburg's Thunder Ridge in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Dueling Grounds, located thirty miles north of Nashville in Franklin, Kentucky, and Paducah's Bluegrass Downs are operated primarily for simulcasting and have limited race cards. Bluegrass Downs has been purchased by Players International in the hope that casino gaming will eventually be legalized in Kentucky and limited to existing race tracks, and for the first time in recent years, such an outcome is not out of the question.
Gaming issues have once again become a hot topic in Kentucky in the course of the 2002 legislative session, and the state's lawmakers have been faced with unprecedented pressure this year either to expand permitted forms of gaming in the Commonwealth or to stop any such expansion in its tracks-depending on the inclinations of the groups bringing such pressure. Increasing competition from state and regional lotteries and the riverboat gambling permitted by surrounding states has brought the state's racetracks into the discussion on the side of permitting such expansion, at least to the extent of limiting the location of newly permitted gaming to thoroughbred racing venues. It's not clear at present whether any action will be taken on this matter in the current legislative session, but for the first time the issue is definitely on the table.