The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has approved a plan by Keeneland to move its simulcasting — betting on live horse races run elsewhere — to The Red Mile in Lexington.
Keeneland will put the simulcast betting in a new $2 million operation inside the $30 million "instant racing," or historical wagering, casino being built at The Red Mile, which is a harness racing track.
The two tracks will share the casino for the slotslike betting, but the simulcasting operations will remain separate: Keeneland will take bets on Thoroughbred races, and The Red Mile will take bets on harness races. Either will take bets on quarter horse racing once Keeneland's quarter horse track and historical wagering casino near Cor bin open in 2016, officials said.
Simulcasting is a major source of betting revenue for all racetracks in North America, including Keeneland. For the recently concluded spring race meet, betting at the track on live races accounted for only about 13 percent of all betting on Keeneland races. The rest — about $105 million — was done elsewhere.
Jim Goodman, director of mutuels and simulcasting, said Wednesday that Keene land has about $50 million a year in simulcast betting.
By expanding its simulcasting operation to a more convenient location, Goodman said, Keeneland officials think the $5 million or so bet on other tracks during Keeneland's live meet could grow.
Keeneland gets a share of betting at its site on races run at other tracks, giving the track an incentive to create an attractive betting operation.
The new Corbin track, which could take bets as early as July, will operate year-round, and Keeneland will continue to offer simulcasting at the main Versailles Road track during live racing, Thoroughbred sales and on major racing days, including the Kentucky Oaks and Derby.
Keeneland hosted more than 21,000 fans last weekend for the Kentucky Derby, according to track officials.
The additional investment, according to Keeneland officials, will "significantly upgrade the grandstand area of The Red Mile for simulcasting patrons."
The Keeneland betting windows at The Red Mile will be near what is expected to be a major draw for entertainment spending: 1,000 historical racing machines, in which bettors play electronic games with the outcome decided by previously run horse races, in The Red Mile casino scheduled to open in September.
"Our goal is to create a destination experience which will positively impact the entire horse industry as well as the local economy," Vince Gabbert, Keeneland vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. "We believe that by consolidating our simulcast operations in a premier location, we will enhance fan interest in live racing."