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Panel: Racing regulation bill to more than double

FRANKFORT — The tab for regulating horse racing in Kentucky could jump from its present $3 million to nearly $8 million, according to projections presented Tuesday to some members of task force appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear.

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission executive director Lisa Underwood said the state needs to hire at least eight full-time employees and 18 part-time, which would add about $1.1 million to the agency budget, including salaries.

"Times are tough economically. We're at a point where we could either hunker down or take a leadership role. We think we should take that leadership role," Underwood said. "We think now's the time to have (racing) properly regulated."

So ideally, she said, the commission would hire double that minimum, plus contract for an independent wagering monitoring system for another $600,000.

Also under consideration: having the state pay for drug testing, which the racetracks presently pay for.

With additional testing under consideration, the tab would be about $2 million, Underwood said.

That brings the total recommended budget to about $7.8 million, she said.

Chairwoman Ellen Hesen said panel members will sort through various proposals to pay for the increases, including raising pari-mutuel taxes, raising license fees, and new taxes on tote companies and advance-deposition wagering platforms. The full task force must present its recommendations to Beshear by Dec. 1.