An Arkansas judge today dismissed a lawsuit aimed at shutting down an electronic racing game offered at Oaklawn Park.

The lawsuit, filed in April by Portland, Ark., police chief Lavan Lawson, claimed the game called Instant Racing is nothing more than a type of slot machine and, therefore, illegal in Arkansas. Instant Racing was developed by a group of investors from Oaklawn Park and AmTote. The arcade-type game is actually a pari-mutuel game, say its inventors. Players, who are wagering on taped races, bet into a common pool that determines the odds.

Ashley County Chancery Court Judge Robert Vittitow’s ruling did not determine whether Instant Racing is legal. Instead, Vittitow said Lawson should have taken his complaint to the Arkansas Racing Commission first.

“This is customary in all forms of administrative law,” said Skip Ebel, general counsel for Oaklawn Park. “You have to go to the regulatory agency first and exhaust your remedies there before going to court.”

Tom Thrush, a Little Rock attorney representing Lawson, said he had not seen the ruling yet and didn’t know if his client would appeal the judge’s decision or take his case to the racing commission.

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