HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - A big hurdle was conquered in Frankfort for Ellis Park, one that officials say is critical for the track to remain open.
The future of Ellis Park got a little brighter as Senate Bill 120, designed to legalize historical horse racing machines, passed through the Kentucky Senate on Tuesday. The next step is getting the bill passed by the state’s House of Representatives.
“There was celebration here when we got through the Senate,” Ellis Park general manager Jeff Inman said. “We were very pleased.”
For over 10 years, historical horse racing machines have been a financial boon to the track at Ellis Park. However, several weeks ago, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled the machines illegal.
Since that point, track owners and horsemen across the state have been pleading their case.
“The track supports so much more than just - I mean, we support horsemen, support the farriers, the trainers, the outriders,” Inman said. “There’s a lot of local business that we do business with that understand the nature of that support.”
Ellis Park is also getting a huge backing from Henderson County Judge-Executive Brad Schneider, who spoke in front of the House Standing Committee on licensing, occupations and administrative regulations Wednesday morning, urging the bill be passed.
“To preserve the future of Ellis Park, they just need to have the legislature make sure that these machines are legal and that people have the option to game that way if they want,” Schneider said. “Approving historical horse racing machines doesn’t force one person to go to Ellis Park and wager one penny. What stopping historical horse racing machines will force is the closure of Ellis Park, the loss of hundreds of jobs, the loss of millions of revenue of all sorts and a net tragedy for the Tri-State.”
A vote from the House could come as early as this week.