2012 session wasn't the last best chance for casinos, says KEEP's Patrick Neely

02/24/2012 08:56 AM

The horse industry will continue to make its case for why it needs and Kentucky should have casinos and does not believe the best chance to pass a constitutional amendment was in 2012, said Patrick Neely, executive director of the Kentucky Equine Education Project.

In an interview recorded Thursday before the Senate voted to defeat the casino measure, Neely said this year was “certainly the best chance we’ve had in a while” to pass it. (8:00)

But when asked if it was the last best chance, he said: “I don’t think so. There are two main issues that are not going to go away. The first is, Kentuckians are going to continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars across the river. That’s not going to change. The second is our industry is going to remain in peril.”

Neely outlined the external threats from other states’ tracks that can pay higher purses and have put Kentucky’s horse industry in “crisis mode.”

Horses are now the fourth-highest-grossing segment of Kentucky agriculture with $700 million in sales, according to 2010 Kentucky agriculture figures.

But Neely said the tracks are suffering from external competition.

“I think tracks like Turfway and Ellis Park are in serious jeopardy,” Neely said, although he didn’t put a time-line on how long they would stick around. (9:00)

Neely also answered questions about the horse industry’s strategy and reason for pushing for a constitutional amendment that specifically barred free-standing casinos from being built within 60-miles of an existing racetrack.


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