July 16, 2024
Grey Machines Pose Major Threat to Kentucky’s HHR, Horse Racing

by Sara Gordon and Katie Petrunyak

Several of the almost 250 folks attending the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club’s (KTFMC) regular conference, held Tuesday night at the Keeneland sales pavilion, ended up unfamiliar with the unregulated and untaxed gaming equipment acknowledged as “gray machines.”

The threat these gray devices pose to historic horse racing (HHR) gaming and the state’s horse racing marketplace as a total had been the most important subject matter of the meeting that integrated a dialogue and Q and A session of Central Kentucky legislators. In a panel moderated by the Kentucky Equine Education Challenge (Preserve)’s executive director Will Glasscock, Senator Amanda Mays Bledsoe (Republican, Lexington), Representative Matt Koch (Republican, Paris), Senator Damon Thayer (Republican, Georgetown) and Senator Reginald Thomas (Democrat, Lexington, minority caucus chair) shared their opposition toward the enlargement of gray devices in Kentucky.

“We have not overlooked what the legislature did for us in 2021,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin recalled of the passing of SB 120, which ongoing the operation of HHR gaming, in her opening feedback for the conference. “We have to pay out attention to what goes on in Frankfort. We are not able to just dwell in our personal very little earth.”

The lawmakers on the panel released the increasing issue of grey devices, which resemble slot equipment but do not qualify as a legalized sort of gaming in Kentucky as there is no oversight to their use. These devices, which are marketed as games of ability, are ordinarily located in establishments these kinds of as gas stations, usefulness merchants and bars.

“They are illegal casino video games,” spelled out Sen. Thayer, the Senate The greater part Floor Leader. “The proprietors have a organization product where by they occur into a point out exactly where you will find a grey location in the legislation, they fork out a law firm to get a friendly belief that claims, ‘Yeah, they’re actually authorized.’ And then they arrive in and try out to get integrated in area communities.”

The meeting’s legislators pointed out how there is at this time no exact count of how lots of machines are in Kentucky due to the fact the equipment are not expected to be registered or tracked, but it is considered that there are now hundreds in use and that their numbers are growing in just about every county throughout the Commonwealth.

Rep. Koch stated how the growth of gray machines poses a big danger to the horse racing market. Even though the greater part of the earnings from these equipment go to out-of-state gaming companies, profits from HHR goes to help the state’s signature market: horse racing. He explained that if gray equipment continue being, they could cripple the field and decimate the work opportunities inside it.

“It’s going to stop HHR. I will not assume that is the variety of gambling that Kentucky wishes to see,” said Rep. Koch.

The panelists spelled out how these gray machines could also have an effect on the communities they reside in, particularly when it comes to their effects on youth. Because the equipment are unregulated, the deficiency of supervision creates the possibility for minors to take part.

“You really don’t want to introduce [teenagers] to gaming at that age. That invitations other kinds of undesirable actions. Maintain them absent from gaming and unlawful activities, due to the fact a single illegal action begets yet another,” mentioned Sen. Thomas.

Thayer mentioned that other states are also doing the job to confront the challenges of gray devices. In Virginia, they have been the concentration of 150 lawsuits, and in Pennsylvania, they were being to begin with legalized but are now struggling with troubles about a lawful and regulatory gray region.

For the duration of the Q and A, attendees questioned for additional facts relating to exactly where grey equipment arrive from and the entities at the rear of them.

Legislators described how Tempo-O-Matic and Notable Technologies very first brought the machines to Kentucky in 2021. The difficulty of their existence in the state was introduced to the floor past 12 months, exactly where the legislature virtually outlawed them, but the Dwelling and Senate eventually could not agree on the bill, so the effort fell small.

Representative Killian Timoney, the sponsor of past year’s invoice, was current at Tuesday’s meeting and mentioned that he will be filing comparable laws this 7 days. As soon as submitted, it could just take up to two to 3 months for a decision to be designed as it moves by way of the legislative technique.

The panel emphasized that now is the time for marketplace participants to access out to their senators and associates to enable sway votes to banning the use of grey machines in Kentucky.

“If you want to maintain this market and see it continue on to develop, you need to be prepared to reach out,” stated Rep. Thayer. “If it isn’t going to take place now, it will be harder upcoming calendar year as [gray machines] carry on to expand like a negative virus.”

Glasscock shared details about the approaching Preserve Day at the Capitol, set for this Thursday, Feb. 23, which offers members of Kentucky’s equine industry and community an opportunity to share with legislators in Frankfort the value of horses to their districts and to the state’s economic system. (Click on in this article for much more).

“We are on the ropes with this 1,” reported Rep. Timoney. “I don’t know if you all can afford to not send out somebody to Hold Working day. The horse marketplace desires to be properly-represented on Thursday. It is really a signature industry and we will need to guard it.

Koch additional encouraged business users to retain the discussion heading with their associates and senators–not only in their districts but throughout the full state–concerning the relevance of HHR, its influence on racing, breeding and sales and its in general importance to the state’s economy.

“We need to distribute a positive information of HHR. We are two several years into this and it truly is doing excellent items for Kentucky. [We need to] reinforce to legislators not to strip that absent.”