04/03/2002 1:00AM

Kentucky slots bill fading


Supporters of legislation that would have legalized gambling machines at Kentucky racetracks all but conceded that the issue is dead for 2002 after the state legislature ended its session on Tuesday.

The bill, which was heavily supported by racing interests, could be addressed later this year when the legislature approves a budget, but supporters are not optimistic. Instead, racing officials said the effort this year could be viewed a starting point for the years ahead.

"We're going to continue to educate," said David Switzer, the executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. "This has been an issue since 1994, and this is the first time that we've gotten it out of committee, so we're making progress."

The bill never got to the floor of the House after anti-gambling Senate leaders vowed not to consider the legislation. Early on, it was approved by the House Licensing and Occupations Committee.

Racetracks in the state had projected that purses would double at most tracks if the machines were approved. The bill would have given 35 percent of the revenue from the machines to the state, 25 percent to racetracks, and nearly 13 percent to horsemen.

Switzer said supporters of the legislation planned to renew their effort early next year, when the legislature is scheduled to have a 30-day session.