Instant Racing Expands as Popularity Grows

Instant Racing Expands as Popularity Grows
Photo: AP Photo
Instant Racing Machines at Kentucky Downs

With wagering on Instant Racing growing each month, Kentucky Downs racetrack has received approval to add 75 more electronic games to the 200 that have been in use since Sept. 1.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously Feb. 15 to approve the expansion of Instant Racing at the Franklin, Ky., track. Twenty of the machines approved by the commission have already gone into use after the premises were inspected by KHRC staff; the additional 55 machines will be installed once they have been received from the manufacturer.

The machines have been placed in use in Kentucky based on advisory opinions that the wagers are pari-mutuel because they are based on the results of previously run horse races in which the Instant Racing bettor does not know the outcome in advance. However, the legal status of the machines has been challenged in court.

Corey Johnsen, president of Kentucky Downs, said wagering on Instant Racing, officially called historic racing due to the nature of the gaming, has increased each month since the machines began operating. As a result, the track, Kentucky horsemen, breeders, and the state’s General Fund have benefitted handsomely from the new gaming.

“Our business has been very good,” Johnsen said. “These are some very exciting times.”

Johnsen said the track has retained Nick Hughes, a veteran casino executive with the Hyatt Corporation, as a senior vice president to oversee the Instant Gaming operations. He said Hughes is also an investor in Kentucky Downs.

According to a financial breakdown provided during the commission meeting, from Sept. 1, 2011 through Jan. 31 of this year, $40.2 million was wagered on Instant Racing at Kentucky Downs.

From that, the track has received nearly $2.9 million, with $400,254 going for purses and $28,590 to the Breeders’ Incentive Fund.

The state has received $603,731, broken down with $140,870 going to the General Fund, $301,865 to the Development Fund, $80,497 to the Equine Industry Program, $40,249 to Equine Drug Research, and $40,249 to the Higher Education Fund.

Also during the meeting, the commission approved the transfer of 5% interest in Kentucky Downs to Churchill Downs. Churchill, which now owns 10% of Kentucky Downs, purchased the interest previously held by Brad Kelley’s Bluegrass Hall LLC.

During the regular business session at the meeting, the state veterinarian reported that during 40 days of racing at Turfway Park from Dec. 1, 2011-Feb. 5, there had been only one fatality over the Polytrack artificial surface.
 

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