Updated on 09/06/2011 6:15PM

Judge hears appeal on Kentucky Downs gambling machine injunction


A Kentucky Court of Appeals judge Tuesday afternoon indicated that he will rule soon on whether to issue an injunction that would prevent Kentucky Downs from taking bets on gambling machines, according to an official with the group that filed the request for injunction.

Kent Ostrander, executive director of the Family Foundation, said that Judge Glenn Acree met with attorneys for the foundation and the state to hear arguments in the request for the injunction, which the Family Foundation filed Friday, one day after Kentucky Downs began taking bets on gambling machines that use previously run horse races to generate random number combinations to determine payoffs.

Acree said following the one-hour meeting that he would decide what to do on the issue “soon,” Ostrander said, but the judge did not provide any additional specifics.

In its request for an injunction, the Family Foundation argued that the gambling machines violate a Kentucky constitutional prohibition on gambling aside from horse racing and the lottery. The foundation decided to file the injunction Friday after photographs in Kentucky newspapers published that day “showed to everyone in the world that these are nothing but slot machines,” Ostrander said.

Kentucky Downs received a license to operate the machines from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission earlier this year. The racing commission passed rules allowing for the machines in 2010, contending that the machines are “pari-mutuel” because they pool bets among players and use horse races to determine payouts.

Just after approving the rules last year, the commission asked a state judge to rule on the legality of its decision. The court ruled that the commission was acting within its power to pass the rules, a decision that was immediately appealed by the Family Foundation. That appeal is scheduled to be heard in October.

Because of the pending appeal, Acree has three options in hearing the request for injunction, Ostrander said: grant the injunction, rule on the request at a later date, or decline the request on the grounds that the issue is already scheduled for appeal.

“We are certain that on appeal that the first judge’s ruling [that the machines are legal] will be overturned,” Ostrander said.