Instant Racing machine at Oaklawn Park.

Instant Racing machine at Oaklawn Park.

File Photo

Kentucky 'Instant Racing' Ruling Appealed

The Family Foundation's appeal of approval of historical racing was expected.

As expected, the Family Foundation of Kentucky has appealed a circuit court ruling that wagering on previously-run races via electronic devices is legal in the state.

The appeal, filed Jan. 20, means the case will move to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

After historical racing regulations were approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission last year, the commission and Kentucky’s eight racetracks petitioned the court to get a ruling on the proposed regulations before going forward. The Family Foundation of Kentucky stepped in to challenge their petition.

Wingate ruled that the licensed operation of pari-mutuel wagering on historical races doesn’t contravene statutory prohibitions of gambling in certain Kentucky statutes, and that the state Department of Revenue’s contention that Instant Racing would be subject to typical pari-mutuel taxes is valid.

In a hearing prior to Wingate issuing his ruling, the Family Foundation contended historical racing, modeled after the successful Instant Racing venture developed and implemented by Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, is a form of slot machine gaming that is not legal in the Bluegrass State.

“We always assumed this issue would eventually be settled by Kentucky’s appellate courts,” Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement concerning the Jan. 20 appeal. “We are confident they will find that historical racing is allowed under Kentucky law, and we look forward to the assistance historical racing will give our struggling horse industry.”

Plans for Instant Racing moved forward earlier in 2010 when Attorney General Jack Conway issued an opinion saying there is nothing in state statute to bar pari-mutuel wagering on historical horse races. The devices, which resemble video lottery terminals but are considered pari-mutuel because all money from the machines is pooled, rely on old races to generate the results of various video-like games.

In its arguments before Wingate’s court, Family Foundation attorneys argued that historical race wagering is inconsistent with the definition of pari-mutuel wagering.