Instant Racing Tied to Simulcast Handle Jump

Kentucky Downs reported gains over the four-day Labor Day weekend.

Kentucky Downs said the launch of Instant Racing Sept. 1 led to year-over-year increases in pari-mutuel handle on simulcast races over Labor Day weekend.

Handle on simulcasts at the track near the Tennessee border from Sept. 2-5 was up 9.4% from the comparable four days in 2010.

Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen in a release said the increase in simulcast handle stemmed from an increase in attendance because of the introduction of Instant Racing machines, which resemble video lottery terminals but are considered pari-mutuel.

“Having made the decision to do very little advertising in advance of our Instant Racing launch, we were thrilled with how things went last weekend,” Johnsen said Sept. 9. “We purposely kept our expectations low for attendance because we wanted to make sure we had everything perfect in our Instant Racing operations.

“The increases in total handle, both for the track as a whole and for our simulcast business in particular, give us great reason to be optimistic as we approach the opening of our 2011 live racing meet (Sept. 10).”

Kentucky Downs officials said that when Instant Racing handle is added to the mix, handle for the four-day period was up 166% from last year.

Kentucky Downs through August was open only four days a week for full-card simulcasts. Johnsen said that because Instant Racing is available day and night seven days a week, the track now offers a daily slate of simulcast offerings.

Instant Racing generated more than $500,000 in handle for its first five days, a figure Johnsen said is in line with expectations.