Ellis Park

Ellis Park

Tom LaMarra

Ellis Changing Historical Racing Operations

Changes include moving 50 gaming machines to Kentucky Downs in Franklin.

Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., is seeking to make changes in its historical racing operations, including removal of 50 terminals that will be sent to Kentucky Downs in Franklin.

According to Kentucky Horse Racing Commission figures, in 2013 Ellis Park's 187 machines handled more than $27.7 million, while the 390 machines at Kentucky Downs grossed $291.2 million.

The machines, which resemble video lottery terminals with outcomes based on previously run races, are technically known as "historical racing" terminals. Modeled after the Instant Racing form of gaming conceived by Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, historical race wagering has been deemed legal as a result of an interpretation that it is legal pari-mutuel wagering, but it still is being challenged in court.

The state Supreme Court recently upheld the authority of the KHRC to promulgate rules and regulate historical race wagering; the court did say the state Department of Revenue did not have the authority to collect taxes on the wagers and sent the case back to a lower court.

Despite the 2013 numbers, Ellis Park has requested permission from the KHRC to move 50 machines "that are not being utilized to their potential" to Kentucky Downs. The regulatory body will consider the request at its next regularly scheduled meeting in April; it was an agenda item for the Feb. 26 meeting that was canceled due to a lack of a quorum.

In a letter to the commission, Kentucky Downs said the Ellis Park machines would be used to replace existing games and would not increase the number of historical racing machines it provides.

In addition to moving the 50 machines out, Ellis Park is in the "planning stages of making changes in our terminal placement, position of the terminals, and game types," according to the letter from Robert Jackson, director of operations.