NEWPORT, Ky. — Churchill Downs will soon have a presence in Northern Kentucky. 

On Friday, a new, $38 million historical racing and gaming facility opens in Newport through their licensing of Turfway Park in Florence. The off-track horse-betting site is called Newport Racing and Gaming.

“Over the last few months, we’ve been able to add 75 full-time jobs here,” said Gary Pecorello, marketing director. “Newport Racing and Gaming is an extension of Turfway Park's racing license in nearby Florence, Kentucky.”

The site hosts 500 historical racing machines (HRMs) and offers simulcast horse racing on live races.

Pecorello said the 47,000-square foot facility has a capacity of about 2,000 people, but with COVID-19 guidelines, they’re able to operate at 50 percent capacity.

It’s illegal in Kentucky to bet on table games, such as poker and blackjack, or bet on standard slot machines, but the facility is offering pari-mutuel wagering.

“There’s historical races from across the United States from years ago randomly selected and then it's the outcome of those races that determine the outcome of the reels on a game,” Pecorello said.

Last week, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that historical horse racing machines do not count as pari-mutuel wagering and are therefore unconstitutional; however, that ruling focused on machines operated by Exacta Systems.

“We use the Ainsworth technology,” Pecorello said.

As a result, that ruling does not impact Churchill Downs’ machines.

Gov. Andy Beshear said historic racing machines add $21 million in tax revenue to the state budget, and he’s hoping for future legislative action that will legalize all of them.