02/28/2008 1:00AM

Kentucky group talks slots move


A horse racing lobbying group in Kentucky was scheduled to meet on Thursday night in order to discuss its response to legislation that would authorize casinos at nine locations in the state.

The board of directors of the group, the Kentucky Equine Education Project, scheduled the meeting after a committee in the house of representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would ask voters to approve the casinos through a referendum on the November ballot.

The language in the bill does not guarantee that racetracks would receive any of the licenses, generating discussion among the racing industry about whether to support or oppose the bill.

The racing industry has lobbied for a bill that would reserve as many as seven licenses for racetracks. Under the current bill, racetracks would have to compete for the licenses with gambling companies, and no more than five casino licenses could be granted to state racetracks. There are eight racetracks in the state.

Racing industry officials declined to comment on Thursday about their position, citing the meeting on Thursday night. The lobbying group's executive director, Patrick Neely, did not return a phone call.

The bill would still need to be approved by a 60 percent vote in both the state house and senate before the referendum could be placed on the ballot. Many legislators have already said that the bill does not have sufficient support in either legislative body, and if the racing industry opposes the bill, the legislation in its current form is likely doomed.