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Keeneland president gives annual pre-Derby address to Lexington Rotarians

Stu Johnson

The Thursday before the Kentucky Derby tradition continued with the Keeneland Racetrack president addressing Lexington Rotarians. Shannon Arvin said the spring meet was another record-setter. She noted all-source wagering went from $164 million a year ago to $181 million last fall to $219 million in the just completed meet.

While the traditional look and feel at Keeneland are important, Arvin said master planning does call for some refurbishing.

“Having been built in 1936 there are some rickety areas and we’re going to work on finding where we can just improve again the experience. You all have probably been in some areas that look a little bit dated. So, we’ll be doing some updates,” said Arvin.

The federal Horse Integrity and Safety Act goes into effect this summer. Were it not for HISA, Arvin said she would be very uncomfortable about horse racing’s future. She added the industry must show the public that the business deserves their confidence. Arvin said there’s been more cooperation among tracks the last five years than she’s seen in 20 years.

While the Kentucky legislature didn’t approve sports wagering, Arvin believes it’s coming and it’s something Keeneland supports. She said efforts are underway to ensure it would help racing.

“There are a lot of options to bet on a sports betting site and they call them tabs. So horse racing would have a tab on a sports betting site, but so will ping pong. So, we got to figure out a smart way to use it to make more people interested in actually the sport of racing,” said Arvin.

Beyond sports wagering, Arvin told Rotarians she didn’t see any further expansion of gambling in Kentucky for a long time.

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