Citing a decline in handle over the past several years, Kentucky Off-Track Betting announced Thursday that it will close all its facilities — in Corbin, Jamestown and Maysville — in June after the completion of the 2013 Triple Crown series.
"Closing our OTBs won't be easy and it has not been a decision our owners have taken lightly," said Kentucky OTB General Manager Laura Prewitt. "We've built relationships with both our employees and our communities, and we fully understand the impact this will have on them. However, the bottom line is that it is not profitable and does not make economic sense to keep operations going."
About 20 full- and part-time employees will be affected by the closings. Prewitt said that KOTB will offer employees outplacement assistance.
KOTB was formed by Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Keeneland and Turfway Park in 1993 with the impetus to generate handle dollars, which would in turn help build Kentucky's purse structure.
In the past 10 years, KOTB has generated an average of $1.4 million per year dedicated to Kentucky Thoroughbred purses. Additionally, KOTB gives back 0.75 percent of every dollar handled to the city where a facility is located, and each county receives 0.25 percent.
The decision to close was forced by economic factors, along with a decline in handle. Ten years ago, a total of $25.7 million was being wagered at the outlets compared to $10 million in 2012.
"We have stayed open at the expense of the owners, because of our commitment to our faithful patron base and to help add to purses," Prewitt said.
KOTB's first outlet opened in April 1993 in Corbin. Initially located in the Holiday Inn, the operations were moved into a freestanding building in 1999. Located off Interstate 75 South, that facility hosted a large number of patrons from Tennessee.
The final OTB was built in Pineville in 1996 before being closed in June 2010 because of a decrease in simulcast handle.
"It is imperative that we look critically at our industry and business models to find ways to grow the sport, and it would be irresponsible to continue ventures that are not profitable," Prewitt said.
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com.