04/11/2014 1:53PM

Kentucky Gov. Beshear signs two racing bills


LEXINGTON – Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed two bills on Thursday and Friday dealing with racing issues, including a bill establishing a 0.5 percent tax on bets made by residents through account-wagering companies.

The bills were passed by the Kentucky legislature with widespread support.

In addition to the account-wagering tax, which will begin to be assessed on Aug. 1, one of the bills allows the legislature to collect a 1.5 percent tax on all bets made on Instant Racing machines, which are slot machine-like devices that use the results of previously run horse races to determine payouts to bettors. The devices are already in operation at Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park, and both Keeneland and the Red Mile recently received approval to operate the machines.

The other bill will make horses running in claiming races of $25,000 or higher eligible for distributions from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund, which awards bonuses to owners and breeders of Kentucky-bred horses.

The tax on bets made through account-wagering companies will be used in large part to fund purses, either through direct distributions to horse owners or KTDF funds. The largest account-wagering companies in the U.S. have so far declined to discuss whether or not they will pass the tax on to customers of their operations.