01/04/2002 1:00AM

Kentucky HBPA votes for slots

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The board of directors of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association voted Friday to approve slot machines at state racetracks, joining another horsemen's group, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, in supporting the movement.

The HBPA vote further unifies the state's racing industry, which has said it badly needs slots in what has become a highly competitive gambling environment. The KTA, which represents mainly central Kentucky breeders, voted Thursday to approve a slots initiative. Riverboat casinos in neighboring states, most notably Indiana, are the primary source of concern.

The Kentucky General Assembly, which begins its annual session Tuesday, is expected to address the slots issue, but probably not until about Feb. 1, according to Bob Elliston, president of Turfway Park.