KY Group Does About-Face on Instant Racing

The Family Foundation of Kentucky wants challenge heard by state's Court of Appeals.

The Family Foundation of Kentucky, which several weeks ago said it wouldn’t challenge a move to bypass the state Court of Appeals in a case involving wagering on historical races, changed course at the last minute and filed a brief Feb. 28 asking that a motion to transfer the case to the state Supreme Court be denied.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the state’s racetracks in late January made the request for a ruling to be made next by the state Supreme Court. At the time, the Family Foundation, an advocacy group, said it wouldn’t contest the action.

Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in late December that “historical race” wagering, in which bettors make wagers on video replays of previously run races, constitutes pari-mutuel wagering under state law and is therefore legal. Historical racing is in use in Arkansas, where it is called Instant Racing.

The KHRC, the tracks, and the state Department of Revenue filed the motion to have the matter sent directly to the state’s highest court if it is deemed to be of “great and immediate public” interest. The motion noted the prominence of Kentucky’s racing and breeding industry and the competition it faces from expanded gambling in other states.

In an accusatory and bizarrely worded motion, the Family Foundation claims the KHRC and racetracks are “powerful monied interests with the full backing of state government and 13 of the most talented and clever lawyers in Kentucky.” The Family Foundation offers no specifics or names, and doesn't mention how it derives its own financial support.

The motion accuses the parties of “hubris.”

The Family Foundation also claims there is no relationship between racetracks’ interest in Instant Racing and saving Kentucky horse farms even though it’s widely known revenue from the games would be used to support the racing and breeding industry in the state.

The motion uses the following sentence concerning the effort to have the Supreme Court rule on the issue: “The movants are attempting to slip daylight past the rooster.”

The latest development probably won't have any impact on when the Supreme Court schedules action on Instant Racing. Industry officials have said action may not come until the summer.