08/24/2010 1:56PM

Group files brief opposing Kentucky gambling machines

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – A group opposed to expanded gambling in Kentucky filed a brief on Monday to intervene in a request from the state’s racing commission for a state court to rule on whether gambling devices using already-run races to generate random numbers are illegal under the state’s constitution, the group, the Family Foundation of Kentucky, said on Monday.

Anti-gambling groups in Kentucky were expected to challenge the legality of the devices, which were approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in July under new rules redefining parimutuel betting. Despite that approval, the racing commission asked the court to rule on the legality of the devices in order to avoid a protracted political and legal dispute over the machines.

In a release, the Family Foundation’s spokesman, Martin Cothran, called the devices “slot machines under another name.” Slot machines are illegal under Kentucky’s constitution. Racetracks in the state have been pushing for authorization for slot machines and other casino-type gambling for several years, but those efforts have so far been unsuccessful.

Judge Thomas Wingate of Franklin County Circuit Court has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 1 to hear arguments on the legality of the devices, which have been in use at Oaklawn Park for a decade under the name Instant Racing. In a previous ruling, Wingate said he wanted to expedite the case.

Most Kentucky racetracks have expressed ambivalence about the machines, contending that they are not competitive with slot machines in use at racetracks and casinos in neighboring states. Some tracks, however – notably Kentucky Downs near the border with Tennessee – are expected to consider seriously installing the devices if they are deemed legal.