FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky House of Representatives cleared the way for historical horse racing Thursday as a Senate bill that would legalize historical horse racing has passed the Kentucky House after a lengthy debate.

The bill is now sent to Gov. Andy Beshear before it officially becomes law.

Last year, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the horse racing machines — similar to slot machines — are not part of what’s called “pari-mutuel wagering.”

“This bill is about the economic impact of our thoroughbred industry," said Rep. Matthew Koch (R-Paris). "The $5.2 billion dollars of economic impact to this commonwealth.”

Senate Bill 120 defines pari-mutuel wagering as one in which people bet on a race — either live, simulcast or previously run.

Some representatives like Rep. Chris Fugate (R-Chavies) opposed the measure. 

“Senate Bill 120 is about saving slot machines. That’s what it’s about. It’s about gambling.”

The bill passed the Senate earlier this week.

Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen praised the House's efforts in a statement released shortly after the measure passed.

"I commend the House for their action today that keeps historical horse racing in Kentucky, preserves the strength of our state’s signature industry and protects thousands of jobs that are dependent upon it," Carstanjen's statement read. "With the passage of Senate Bill 120 in the Senate and now the House, our legislators have made clear their support of historical horse racing in the Commonwealth."

In a joint statement, leaders of horse racing tracks from across the state also praised the bill and thanked legislators for supporting the horse industry.

“On behalf of our team members, our horsemen and all of the citizens of the Commonwealth who earn their pay checks directly or indirectly from the horse industry, we applaud the Kentucky House of Representatives for the passage today of SB 120. The future of the Commonwealth’s signature industry and those who support it is secure," the statement read.