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Ky. Downs has record month with historical racing, uptick at Red Mile

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission reported Tuesday that the Red Mile gambling parlor showed marginal gains in September with the handle up slightly to $21.1 million. This 2015 file photo shows the instant racing machines in Lexington's first legal gambling parlor at Red Mile.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission reported Tuesday that the Red Mile gambling parlor showed marginal gains in September with the handle up slightly to $21.1 million. This 2015 file photo shows the instant racing machines in Lexington's first legal gambling parlor at Red Mile. Herald-Leader

Historical horse racing, an electronic form of gambling available at several Kentucky racetracks, had a big month in September with more than $71.6 million wagered. So far this fiscal year, almost $211 million has been wagered in historical racing, a 78.2 percent increase over the same period of last year.

Most of that was at Kentucky Downs in Franklin, which had a record month with handle of $42.1 million. Even the Red Mile/Keeneland gambling parlor showed marginal gains: handle was up slightly to $21.1 million.

The numbers were reported Tuesday at the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meeting. The commission also approved the 2017 racing calendar with no significant changes.

Most of the money wagered is returned to bettors in the form of winnings.

However, fiscal year-to-date, historical racing has generated almost $3.2 million in Kentucky excise taxes, most of which is dedicated to equine industry funds. About $784,000 has been generated for the General Fund by the 1,706 electronic terminals at Kentucky Downs, the Red Mile/Keeneland, and Ellis Park in Henderson.

The gambling parlor at the Red Mile continues to lag behind Kentucky Downs: the Lexington facility reported handle per day per machine of $781 for September, compared with $2,247 for Kentucky Downs.

Ellis Park, which has far fewer machines, reported average daily handle per machine of $1,551 in September. Ellis Park’s total historical wagering handle for September was $8.3 million.

Kentucky Downs, which uses a different type of machine and game than Red Mile, reported that for the first nine months of 2016, betting on historical horse racing was almost $345 million, up 35 percent from the same period in 2015.

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