Churchill Undecided on Form of Instant Racing

Churchill Undecided on Form of Instant Racing
Photo: File Photo

Churchill Downs has not decided whether to implement a form of Instant Racing should the video lottery terminal-like games be approved for Kentucky racetracks, according to Churchill Downs Inc. president and chief executive officer Robert Evans.

During a conference call Aug. 5 to discuss CDI’s latest earnings report, Evans said Churchill Downs could expect to receive $2 million-$3 million in additional purse money annually from the new type of wagering, which is being referred to as "historical racing" in proposed statutes.

"It will probably be quite some time before we get to the point of a final decision on whether to install historical racing machines," Evans said. "And based on what we know so far, should we decide to proceed, it appears that the financial impact on Churchill Downs on our purse account and on our ability to produce the large-field, high-quality racing that bettors want will be minimal."

Because the machines won't be installed until a Franklin Circuit Court rules on their legality in a petition filed by the racetracks, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, and Kentucky Department of Revenue, it could be well into 2011 before any machines become active, Evans said.

Instant Racing has proven successful in supplementing purses at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, where the games were first introduced. The machines resembling VLTs permit players to bet on previously run races, though the bettor does not know which races they are betting on or who the winner is.

The KHRC has approved historical racing as a way to boost purses at Kentucky tracks in view of the inability of the state legislature to approve casino-type wagering in the Bluegrass State.

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