Ellis Park

Ellis Park

Anne M. Eberhardt

Ellis Park Wants 252 Instant Racing Terminals

Henderson, Ky., track's request to be considered during Oct. 24 meeting.

Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., has submitted an application for regulatory approval to conduct Instant Racing, stipulating that it would use more than 13,200 square feet of its facility to house 252 gaming terminals.

In the application, which will be considered by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission at its monthly meeting Oct. 24, Ellis Park indicates that it would conduct Instant Racing seven days a week, with 13 hours of daily gaming Monday through Friday and 15 hours a day on weekends. The application does not state how many employees will be hired to accommodate the new form of gaming.

The area set aside for Instant Racing is on the first floor of the existing Ellis Park facility and has a maximum capacity of 1,200, according to the applications.

Instant Racing is called "Historical Race Wagering" in Kentucky, but the machines are the same ones used in the successful Instant Racing concept at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. While the machines resemble traditional video lottery or slot machines, the payoffs rely upon the outcomes of previously run races that are unknown to the player. A lawsuit over the machines’ legality is pending.

Instant Racing proved to be an instant success when implemented at Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky. in September. The track is operating 200 of the machines on a similar schedule to that proposed by Ellis Park.

Although Ellis Park's application did not state when the new form of gaming would begin, track president Ron Geary told the Evansville Courier-Press that he would like to start it in early 2012.

Geary has declined requests to provide details of Ellis’ plans, preferring to wait until the application is voted upon by the KHRC.

In an agreement with the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association filed with its Instant Racing application, Ellis Park stipulates it will offer simulcast wagering year-round, beginning Jan. 1, 2012. The simulcasting will be offered each day there is live Thoroughbred racing offered by Kentucky tracks. This year, Ellis Park offered only limited simulcasting.

The HBPA agreement states that after deducting for payment of the state pari-mutuel tax, Ellis Park will pay an amount equal to 15% of the actual “hold” (takeout) generated from pari-mutuel wagering on historic races. Of that, 14% will be designated for purses at Ellis Park and 1% to the Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund.