New horse racing, gaming facility coming to Whitley County

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 4:45 PM EDT
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WHITLEY COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - A new gaming hall is coming to southern Kentucky, offering slot-like machines to bet on historical horse races. On Tuesday, local and state leaders came together in announcing the Cumberland Mint Gaming Hall in Whitley County.

For years there’s been conversations of expanding horse racing in southeastern Kentucky.

“We are hoping by this time next year we are walking in and cutting a ribbon,” said Ron Winchell with Kentucky Downs.

Drawings show that the Cumberland Mint Gaming Hall will be a combination of a sports bar/gaming center. The gaming machines look like slots, but we’re told there’s a difference—here people will bet on historic horse races.

“And this is what the court talked about, you’re looking at it. A long time statutory scheme, that you can look at it, it’s the 6th race, eight horses in it, it’s not quite like slot machines,” Senate President Robert Stivers said.

Kentucky lawmakers cleared up language earlier this year that caused the Supreme Court to rule HHR machines illegal. That law paved the way for construction to start on this facility that when done, will lead to more than 200 jobs for the region. But some are questioning if this is simply the beginning of expanded gambling in the state.

“I think this facility being here really shows that perceptions are changing. This is an industry, whether you talk about the horse industry or a larger gaming industry, that is occurring all over the country, all major sports are getting activity involved in it,” Gov. Andy Beshear said.

Within the next few months, a partner site will be announced just up I-75 in Corbin, where a track will be built for live racing along with another HHR facility. That is expected to be finished by late 2023.

Williamsburg’s mayor said he’s hopeful the facility could open by the summer of next year and could coincide with a major expansion of the local water park.

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