, Corbin, KY

February 20, 2013

Cothran calls racing bill, ‘Instant pardon bill’

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble

Staff Writer

The man with the organization that’s appealed the case of expanding gambling in Kentucky says he’s waiting to see what the Kentucky Supreme Court will do next.

Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky, discussed the status of the case Tuesday night before he spoke to parents, faculty, board members and friends of St. Camillus Academy.

“It’s in the Supreme Court. We lost at the trial level in Franklin County, but the appeals court ruled in our favor, and it was going back to circuit court to hear our argument to see whether it’s a slot machine,” he pointed out.

Cothran and other persons are interested in the case, which has picked up interest in the Tri County region since Keeneland announced late last week they would build an entertainment venue featuring a quarter horse racetrack in the Corbin area. While specifics were not discussed, Keeneland said they were looking at land south of Corbin along the I-75 corridor as the possible location for the track.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved instant racing, also called historical wagering, in July 2010. It was ruled legal in Frankfort by Franklin Circuit Court, but the case was appealed by the Family Foundation, which opposes any gambling expansion in the state. Last June, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled to return the ruling to the Franklin Circuit Court. Last month, the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed to take up the issue.

Keeneland said last week a bill would be filed this week for instant racing to be approved by the state legislature, making the court case moot. The bill — Senate Bill 204 — was filed last Friday by state Senator Johnny Ray Turner (D-Prestonsburg). Prestonsburg, in Floyd County, is the location of the Thunder Ridge harness racing track that Keeneland wants to buy and move to Corbin as a quarter horse track.

“The bill that was filed was basically a legislative pardon. It makes it retroactive. You can’t go back and make a legal act legal. So what they (the state Senate) are doing is making what may be an illegal act legal. We call it the ‘Instant pardon bill.’” Cothran said.