01/21/2011 12:09PM

Family Foundation of Kentucky challenges Instant Racing ruling


A Kentucky group opposed to the expansion of gambling has filed an appeal of a recent court ruling that said the state could regulate electronic games that allow bettors to place wagers on the results of horse races that have already been run.

The Family Foundation of Kentucky filed a notice with the Kentucky Court of Appeals on Thursday, the organization said, and will argue that the devices are “not fundamentally different” from slot machines, which are illegal under Kentucky’s constitution. The group had previously argued against the devices when the case was heard by Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate.

“Wagering on live racing with dead horses might make a good ‘Twilight Zone’ episode, but it isn’t legal in Kentucky,” Martin Cothran, a spokesman for the Family Foundation, said in a statement.

The state racing commission approved rules regulating the devices last year, but the commission also simultaneously filed a request for the Circuit Court to rule on the legality of the regulations, in an effort to stake its position on solid legal ground. The commission was joined in the request by the state’s racetracks.

The devices, known as Instant Racing, have been installed at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas for a decade. While regulators in Arkansas have ruled that the devices are a form of parimutuel wagering, other jurisdictions, such as Oregon, have ruled that the devices run afoul of laws prohibiting slot machines.

Several Kentucky racetracks, including Kentucky Downs near the Tennessee border and Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky, have indicated that they would install the machines if the devices are ruled legal. Other tracks have been lukewarm about the devices.