02/26/2002 1:00AM

Kentucky slot backers see bonanza

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Legislation to leaglize gambling machines at Kentucky racetracks was introduced Tuesday in the state's House of Representatives in Frankfort.

The legislation, which would legalize slot-like machines at eight locations in Kentucky, is being backed by a broad coalition of racing interests in the state but is opposed by an equally broad collection of anti-gambling interests.

Supporters claim that the state will receive $351 million each year from the machines, 35.05 percent of an estimated $1 billion in yearly revenue. Tracks would keep 52.25 percent, and horsemen would get 12.7 percent.

Racetrack and horsemen's representatives distributed materials at a press conference in Louisville that showed average daily purses at most racetracks would double with revenues from gambling machines. They estimated that Keeneland's average daily distribution would rise from $655,000 a day to $1.15 million; at Churchill, purses would go from $416,000 to $764,000 a day; and at Turfway, purses would go from $172,000 to $464,000.