Horse Racing Commission bypassing lawmakers

August 28, 2017
Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: (859)329-1919

LEXINGTON, KY— The Family Foundation today warned that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission was quietly bypassing the state’s General Assembly and was working behind closed doors and through the courts to legalize all forms of gambling in the state, including casino-style gambling. The comments came after a news story which included remarks from a number of legislators indicating that gambling expansion would probably not be taken up by the legislature in the special session or in the regular session next year.


The Foundation, which is currently involved in litigation on the issue, determined through recent pre-trial discovery, which The Family Foundation had to fight all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court to obtain, that the Racing Commission’s interpretation and application of the definition of pari-mutuel gambling includes nearly, if not all, forms of casino-style gambling.


“Lawmakers may think they are in control of this issue, but, in fact, the Horse Racing Commission is doing an end run around the General Assembly by redefining what constitutes pari-mutuel gambling,” said Martin Cothran, spokesman for the group, referring to the arguments of the Commission’s lawyers in a case now before a Frankfort court.


“This issue should be decided by elected lawmakers, not by a small handful of state lawyers working with gambling industry lawyers in a smoke-filled room somewhere.”


The group said that, if the Commission has its way, it will approve all forms of gambling by relying on a paid gambling consultant to call it pari-mutuel and Kentuckians could see casinos moving into the state without a single vote of the people’s elected lawmakers.


“This is all being done in secret meetings behind the scenes with no input from anyone other than the racing industry and gambling interests,” he said. “The administration lawyers are meeting behind closed doors to rewrite the state’s gambling laws in secret so that the public is unable to see what they are doing. While everyone else in state government has made peace with the twenty-first century, the racing industry is still practicing smoke-filled room policymaking.”


“If the Horse Racing Commission can unilaterally change the state’s policy on expanded gambling in court, then why have we been arguing about this in the General Assembly for two decades? This is a mockery of responsible lawmaking “



P.O. Box 911111 Lexington, KY 40591 859-255-5400