KY Historical Racing Exceeds $356 Million

Wagering on games topped $28.5 million at Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park in May.

Wagering on historical racesan electronic form of gaming in which the outcome is determined by the results of previously run racescontinues to soar in Kentucky and has exceeded the $356 million mark through May.

According to figures compiled for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, historical race wagering totaled nearly $26.1 million in May at Kentucky Downs, the Franklin track that was the first in the state to begin offering the new form of gaming in September 2011. May 2013 handle on historical races at Ellis Park, the Henderson track that installed the machines in August 2012, totaled about $2.5 million.

The machines, patterned along the lines of Instant Racing machines first installed at Oaklawn Park, resemble video lottery terminals but the on-screen games are based on the results of previously run horse races. A brief video of the race is superimposed on the screen while the game is taking place.

The revenue is divvied up the same way as a pari-mutuel bet on live racing in the state.

Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park are the only two Kentucky tracks to offer historical race wagering. 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 legal because it is a form of pari-mutuel wagering, 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. There is no public timetable for a ruling.

A breakdown of the $356,072,421 wagered on historical race devices in Kentucky since their inception shows net track commission (commission minus the pari-mutuel tax) of $23,183,718. Of that, $3,245,721 has accrued to the purse fund and $231,808 has gone into the Kentucky Breeder's Incentive Fund.

From the total historical race wagering, the state has received a commission of $5,341,086. Of the state's total, $1,246,253 has gone into the general fund, with the remainder distributed as follows: Thoroughbred Development Fund, $2,670,543; Equine Industry Program, $712,145; equine drug research, $356,072; and the Higher Education Fund, $356,072.