Kentucky Group Seeks to Halt Instant Racing

Kentucky Downs continues to operate machines pending a court ruling.

The Family Foundation of Kentucky has filed an injunction in the Kentucky Court of Appeals to halt the operation of Instant Racing machines at Kentucky Downs.

According to published reports Sept. 2, the public policy group, which already had appealed a circuit court ruling upholding the games as pari-mutuel, sought the injunction Sept. 1, the day Instant Racing began operating at the racetrack near the Tennessee border.

A ruling is expected the week of Sept. 4. The appeals court hasn’t yet ruled on the legality of the games, which the state Attorney General’s office and Kentucky Horse Racing Commission believe are pari-mutuel in nature because wagers are pooled.

Kentucky racing industry officials believe the appeals court will uphold Instant Racing. Kentucky Downs is the first track in the state to move ahead with the games, which resemble video lottery terminals but are based on the results of previously run races.

“The fact is that the Franklin Circuit Court’s opinion protects Kentucky Downs from nothing because the opinion was not legitimate, and is currently under appeal,” Family Foundation executive director Kent Ostrander said.

On Aug. 31 Ostrander said the group also plans to seek legislation that would make operation of what he calls “illegal slot machines” a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

The Instant Racing regulations, basically an expansion of pari-mutuel wagering statutes, also cleared a legislative panel earlier this year. Kentucky Downs officials, with the support of the horse racing industry, will continue to operate the machines pending a court ruling.

Ostrander told the Louisville Courier-Journal the group filed for an injunction after seeing photos of the Instant Racing machines at Kentucky Downs. He told the newspaper the Family Foundation had been unable to get photographs of the machines, but such photos have appeared on various websites and in publications over the 10 years Oaklawn Park in Arkansas has legally operated the devices.