A long-running dispute over the legality of slot-like “instant racing” machines found at Kentucky racetracks may soon wind its way back to the state Supreme Court.
The conservative Kentucky Family Foundation is appealing Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate’s ruling last month that the machines don’t violate the state’s gambling laws. On Monday, the Family Foundation filed a request for the case to be transferred directly to the state’s high court.
Kentucky law bars casinos. “Parimutuel” betting on horse racing, however, is legal. Under that system, gamblers don’t bet against the house, but against other gamblers, with a pool of all wagers split among the winners.
In his ruling, which only addresses machines found at Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs, Wingate said Kentucky’s definition of parimutuel betting doesn’t require gamblers to bet on the same horse races. The definition also doesn’t require reciprocity among gamblers or for a pool to remain open for a specified period of time, he said.
In its request, the Family Foundation accuses Wingate of disregarding the “fundamental requirement” that “parimutuel” (French for “mutual stake”) be “mutual.”
“It is like saying the population of a city is showering together because the shower water winds up in the same sewer,” the request signed by Family Foundation attorney Stan Cave says.
In its request, the Family Foundation also points to the nearly $887,000 its says racetracks paid to Kentucky Racing Commission consultant Gaming Laboratories International, questioning whether that constitutes bribery under Kentucky law.
The case, which dates to 2010 and could have implications for Louisville’s new $65 million Derby City Gaming facility, already made it to the state’s highest court once before being remanded for a discovery process that dragged on for years.
Derby City, which is owned by Churchill Downs, has 900 instant-racing machines made by Ainsworth Game Technology. The company has plans for more. Earlier this month, Churchill Downs and Lexington’s Keeneland racetrack won approval from the state’s horse racing commission to operate a $125 million facility in Christian County. That facility will house 1,500 instant-racing machines.
In response to a request for comment, Churchill Downs spokesman Steve Bryant referred the Courier Journal to an earlier statement from racetrack President Kevin Flanery.
“We were very pleased with Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate’s ruling. Pari-mutuel wagering on HRMs (historical racing machines) provides an immense benefit to Kentucky’s signature horseracing industry. HRMs help keep our racing circuit competitive by creating larger purses and boosting sales and breeding operations across the Commonwealth.”
In its request for the appeal to go before the Supreme Court, the Family Foundation made its stance against gambling clear.
“For those who profit from it, it is called support for the horse industry. For budget writers, it is about revenue,” the request said. “For others, like The Family Foundation, who is seeking no monetary recovery, it is about a family’s breadwinner losing the week’s grocery money or the month’s rent, a gambling addiction, the corruptive influences on government and the pain and the loss of victims falling prey to the irrational greed of the gambling industry.”
Reach reporter Alfred Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-582-7142. Follow him on Twitter @AlfredFMiller. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.
Read or Share this story: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/money/companies/2018/11/26/kentucky-slot-gaming-machines-court-ruling-appealed/2118761002/