Instant Racing machine at Oaklawn Park.

Instant Racing machine at Oaklawn Park.

File Photo

Hearing Set on Kentucky 'Instant Racing'

Tracks are seeking to allow wagering on "historical races."

A Kentucky judge has set Dec. 14 as the date when all sides will present oral arguments on whether a form of Instant Racing proposed for the state’s racetracks is legal.

During the hearing, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate will hear from representatives of the racetracks, the state, and the Family Foundation on the constitutionality of “historical races.”

Modeled after the successful Instant Racing at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, historical racing allows bettors to wager on videos of previously run races. The bettors do not know the track or horses on which they are wagering.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved historical racing in July and immediately joined with the racetracks to request a declaratory judgment from Franklin Circuit Court on the legality of the form of electronic gaming. The commission and racetracks contend historical racing is an extension of pari-mutuel wagering.

The Family Foundation, which has intervened in the court case, contends that historical races do not fall within the legal definition of pari-mutuel wagering.

The timing of the Franklin Circuit Court hearing could result in a decision by Wingate prior to the start of the next legislative session in January.

Kentucky’s racetracks and racing industry turned to historical races as an alternative way of generating money for purses after unsuccessfully pushing for the General Assembly to legalize video gaming. In recent years, Kentucky racing has taken a hit from neighboring states that have bolstered purses by getting revenues from video lottery terminals and casino-type gaming.