For the second month in a row, the state gave a major tax refund to a Kentucky racetrack. This time, Churchill Downs in Louisville in September got at least $1.5 million back.
Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher said the track had no comment.
Added to the $516,000 refunded to Keeneland in August, the state now has given back almost half of the $4.4 million in pari-mutuel taxes collected in fiscal year 2009.
The state did not release specific refund figures but the general fund shows receipts from pari-mutuel taxes running a deficit of more than $1.55 million, compared with more than $607,000 in taxes collected over the same period in the last fiscal year.
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The refunds occurred because daily on-track betting fell below $1.2 million, so the racetracks slipped into a lower tax bracket.
According to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, in calendar 2008, Churchill Downs averaged live on-track handle of $1,242,742.
So a bad spring 2009 meet would have been enough to drop Churchill's average below the crucial mark for fiscal year calculations.
And Churchill had a bad spring meet. Despite Kentucky Derby attendance of 153,563, on-track betting for the day was down 12.7 percent, more than $3 million. Betting on the Derby itself was down 16.1 percent from last year's record of more than $12 million.
Churchill Downs Inc., the Louisville track's corporate parent, no longer reports handle figures at the end meet, but quarterly filings with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission indicate that total handle was down 13 percent for April through June.
Churchill and other Kentucky tracks blame their woes on the lack of expanded gambling, which the track say allows competitors in other states to offer much more purse money, siphoning off horses and betting.