Ellis Park Moving Ahead on Instant Racing

Ellis Park Moving Ahead on Instant Racing
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

The owner of Ellis Park said June 27 he is hoping to have Instant Racing implemented before the track’s summer meet ends on Labor Day. The 29-day meet at the Henderson, Ky., track begins July 4.

Track owner Ron Geary said the track is going ahead with installing the Instant Racing machines and that he’s negotiating with investment groups to find a partner to provide $3 million needed to finish remodeling part of the clubhouse into a casino-style facility, according to the Henderson Gleaner.

Instant Racing machines resemble video lottery terminals but are considered pari-mutuel because the games are based on the results of historical races and all money is pooled. The legality of the new form of gaming has been challenged in court as one track in the state, Kentucky Downs, continues to reap the benefits of having the machines in place.

On June 15, the Kentucky Court of Appeals remanded a case challenging the legality of Instant Racing to Franklin County Circuit Court after vacating that court’s findings.

In an opinion, two of three appeals court judges said the request for discovery by the Family Foundation of Kentucky, which is challenging the legality of Instant Racing, “was relevant and necessary to the court’s determination, and that denial of discovery constituted an abuse of discretion.”

The appeals court said it is “unable to address the merits of the remaining issues” because of the lack of discovery. The court heard oral arguments April 25.

Until now, the opinion further delayed implementation of Instant Racing beyond Kentucky Downs, which launched the games Sept. 1, 2011, and has cleared the $100 million mark in wagering from the machines. Other tracks in the state have been waiting on resolution of the legal challenge to move forward.

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