Instant Racing Clears Hurdle, Ready For Market

The principle owners of "Instant Racing" are ready to aggressively market their product to racetracks in other states and countries now that a deadline that challenged the legality of the game in Arkansas has passed.

Instant Racing is a pari-mutuel video game that allows players to wager on a library of 50,000 taped races using a standard totalizator system. The game is owned and operated by RaceTech, a consortium of investors comprised primarily of executives from Oaklawn Park and AmTote.

Instant Racing was launched this spring in Arkansas with 50 machines each at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis. Oaklawn general manager Eric Jackson said those machines generated $30 to $50 of revenue (net win) per day. Defined percentages of that net win go to fund purses, state breeders' programs, and to the track, as well as state and federal taxes.

"I hope (Instant Racing) is something that benefits racing as a whole, especially at those tracks that can't get expanded gaming such as slot machines," Jackson said. "Everybody who is involved in the different facets of racing (benefits) from Instant Racing."

The legality of Instant Racing was challenged in April by Arkansas sheriff Lavan Lawson, whose lawyers alleged the game was "nothing but slot machines." Ashley County, Ark., court judge Robert Vittitow dismissed the suit Aug. 25 on the grounds that the complaint should have first been filed to the Arkansas State Racing Commission. Lawson and his lawyers had 60 days to appeal the ruling, but that deadline passed Oct. 20 with no complaint filed to the commission.
Jackson said RaceTech officials now would look to expand the market for Instant Racing.

"We were in kind of a holding pattern pending the outcome of the lawsuit, and this litigation put us back about nine months in our product development," Jackson said. "But now we can be more aggressive in our approach to sell the games. We've had quite a bit of interest from racetracks in other states, and we've also been working with some facilities in other countries as well. Our product is doing well."

Jackson said one of the primary goals of RaceTech will be to establish a national system of Instant Racing games that will link players from around the country and allow them to play for lucrative payoffs.

"We're looking for that jackpot appeal," Jackson said. "We can set up systems so they are self contained at one track, but we can also set up a national system that hopefully will establish higher play plateaus. That will give (Instant Racing) the sort of critical mass that will give it the potential for huge payoffs, just like a lottery."

Because the Lawson lawsuit was dismissed, no court ruling has been made to define Instant Racing. Despite the specter of another lawsuit, Jackson said: "It's completely pari-mutuel; there isn't any question," he said. "It has common pools, and it is played over a totalizator system just like any other form of pari-mutuel racing. If it isn't pari-mutuel, I'm not sure anything we're doing (in the industry) is."