There is no doubt that Kentuckians love their horseracing. There has been horseracing in Kentucky since the 18th century, when people began arriving into the state from Europe. In addition, American colonists who were already here were moving westward to escape the crowds and large cities on the East Coast. Harness racing in Kentucky has been popular since colonial times, and horse tracks were set up across the country for people to race horses and watch horseracing. Tracks began to be built for people to watch and bet on races. Racing became so popular that races were standing room only on the weekends, even during the Great Depression. One of those racetracks, the Red Mile, is set to get additional slot machines and harness racing.
Gambling in Kentucky
Gambling in Kentucky is limited to horseracing and slot machines that allow gamblers to bet on horseracing. Although in the past, gambling interests have wanted to add casinos, mobile or online betting, and sportsbooks, so far additional gambling has not been approved. There is some interest in expanding sports gambling in the state to allow gamblers to bet on basketball games. Kentucky is not only a horseracing state, it is also a basketball state, and many people participate in informal pools throughout the year. While sports betting may be closer to reality than was originally thought, right now, all of the interest in the state is at the track. Currently, Kentucky has five tracks.
The Red Mile
The Red Mile is a harness track in Lexington, Kentucky. Called Keeneland, the track, like many tracks in the state, is nearly 100 years old. It first began as a dirt track in the middle of the Great Depression. Currently, the track ranks first in thoroughbred tracks in the nation. Keeneland also has one of the largest thoroughbred horse auctions in the country. Many visitors come to the track just to have a look at potential Kentucky Derby winners and their offspring at horse sales, which are done three times a year.
The New Features
The Red Mile’s joint venture with Keeneland offers simulcast betting on horseraces. In addition, the racino also has hundreds of historical wagering machines, which allows gamers to play slot-like machines on previously run horse races. While the options for gamers is not bad for Kentucky, the venue is adding 30 additional harness races during the year. Harness racing has become very popular in Kentucky, as many race aficionados feel that it is the purest form of racing. It is more challenging than other racing forms, such as thoroughbred racing with a single jockey.
In addition, the racetrack is adding lottery games to its casino, and is also adding Keno. Keno, a fast-paced game, is based on random number drawings and cards. This makes the track the only place in Kentucky where gamblers can have simulcast betting, slot machines, lottery games and keno. The Kentucky Lottery and the racetrack will also do promotional events together, which should increase gamer interest.
This mixing of games at The Red Mile/Keeneland is the beginning of what may be a ramping up of gaming in Kentucky. Lottery officials have said that if the additional lottery games and Keno are successful at Keeneland, they may offer it at additional tracks. Two additional tracks, Churchill Downs Derby City Gaming in Louisville and Kentucky Downs in Franklin are also in the running for additional games. Future gaming offers may include some mobile betting or online gaming at racetracks as well. If Kentucky does manage to pass the sports betting feature, the racetracks would be able to immediately offer sportsbooks, as they already handle simulcasts and pari-mutuel betting.
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