KY Historical Race Wagering Now at $228M

KY Historical Race Wagering Now at $228M
Photo: AP Photo
Instant Racing Machines

Wagering on historical races in Kentucky generated more than $3.8 million for purses and the state Thoroughbred Development Fund from September 2011 through December 2012, according to Kentucky Horse Racing Commission statistics.

Historical race wagering, also known as Instant Racing, began at Kentucky Downs in September 2011. Ellis Park completed its first full month with the machines in September 2012.

The combined handle at the two tracks through the end of 2012 was $228.2 million, according to the KHRC, which oversees historical race wagering. The total commission was $18.6 million.

The two tracks, which pay for the machines and related facility upgrades, collected $15.2 million during the period. Purse accounts received $2.1 million, or 14% of the net track commissions, while the KTDF, which offers purse supplements for Kentucky-bred runners, got $1.7 million, or 0.75% of the total commissions.

The Kentucky Breeders' Incentive Fund collected $152,262, or 1% of track commissions.

Monthly handle at Kentucky Downs peaked at $19.9 million in September 2012, dropped in October and November, but rebounded to $18.6 million in December. Monthly handle at Ellis Park has held steady at $2 million to $2.1 million.

Ellis Park competes with a full-scale casino located several miles away in Evansville, Ind. There are no casinos near Kentucky Downs, which also draws from the Nashville, Tenn., market.

The other tracks in the state have opted to hold off on investing in historical race wagering until a legal challenge by the Family Foundation of Kentucky is resolved.

The Kentucky Attorney General's office has deemed historical race wagering pari-mutuel, and the KHRC adopted regulations to facilitate the form of gambling. The state's racetracks and the state itself were successful in petitioning the Kentucky Supreme Court to consider the legality of historical race wagering, though there is no public timetable for a ruling.

The machines resemble video lottery terminals but the on-screen games are based on the results of previously run horse races. The revenue is divvied up the same way as a pari-mutuel bet on live racing in the state.

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