Yesterday the Kentucky Senate killed a bill that would have brought slot machines to Kentucky racetracks. Kentuckians and KEEP have been lobbying hard noting that surrounding states fueled by alternative gaming are having a negative impact on Kentucky’s breeding industry.
Of course, looking at this from a Virginia perspective, such predictions of gloom and doom seem a bit hyperbolic, but the fact is that 11 of KY’s biggest and closest competitors have alternative gaming. That number will be 12 if Ohio approves slots.
Now, Kentucky does have a great deal in common with Virginia even if the scale of impact is quite a bit different. While horseracing is important in Lexington and the surrounding counties and Louisville along with several other isolated racetrack locations, like VA, KY is geographically diverse and a large number of citizens and members of the state government aren’t involved or directly exposed to the horse industry. In fact, the area of geographic impact of the KY industry may actually be smaller than here in Virginia in terms of the number of places that horse farming is important.
What this means is that there are a great number of legislators in the KY General Assembly that, like their brethren in the VA General Assembly, who simply don’t care about the horse business.
We have to change that by getting the media and the public interested in the simple fact that we are going to lose the industry that produced Secretariat if we don’t fix the wagering distribution problem. We will need to conduct a PR campaign similar to the one KEEP has been running for some time utilizing celebrity owner, trainers and jockeys as spokespersons for the cause.
Like our fellow Commonwealthers, we need some legislative relief. To that end, every member of the House of Delegates is up for reelection and we will be electing a new Governor in Virginia this November as well.
We will reach out to both Creigh Deeds (D) and Bob McDonnell (R) in the near future to see where they stand on issues important to the industry. In the meantime, VTA and VHBPA members will be receiving yet another letter begging for contributions for the Virginia Equine P.A.C.
Building purses, handle, Breeders Fund revenue and racing days is all a political process, and campaigns and campaign contributions are part of that process. You can help. In fact, you need to help as we can’t do it without you.
VEPAC, c/o VTA, 38 Garrett Street, Warrenton, VA 20186.