02/24/2010 12:00AM

Kentucky bet tax advances


A bill that would add a one-half of 1-percent tax to all wagers made by Kentucky residents on Kentucky races through account-wagering operations was passed out of a state House committee and has been sent to the full House for a vote.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Larry Clark, a Democrat from Louisville who is the speaker pro tem, would require that the funds raised from the tax be split in three equal parts, with one-third going to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, one-third to the racetrack that is running live meet when the wager is placed, and one-third to the purse account at the live track.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the bill had not yet been scheduled for a vote. It was passed out of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee on Tuesday.

Robert Elliston, the president of Turfway Park, which is owned in part by Keeneland, said that he objected "philosophically" to the bill because its treats Kentucky account-wagering customers different than out-of-state customers. Elliston also said, however, that the amount raised would be negligible.

"Practically speaking, the amount is so small I don't believe it will have a big impact on wagering," Elliston said.

Churchill Downs Inc., which owns one of the largest account-wagering companies in the U.S., Twinspires.com, did not respond to requests for comment about the bill.