07/19/2012 2:13PM

Kentucky commission files motion on legality of instant racing

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The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has filed a motion with the state’s highest court that intends to establish the legality of instant racing machines, gambling devices that use the results of previously run horse races to generate payouts.

The motion, filed July 16 with the state Supreme Court, is the latest development in a running battle between supporters of the devices and their opponents. The motion states that the Supreme Court should find that the devices are legal despite a lower court’s ruling last month that a previous opinion rendered by courts on the legality of the machines should be thrown out.

On June 15, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that the earlier opinion should be moot because the court that issued the ruling did not allow opponents to gather evidence about the devices, which are currently installed at Kentucky Downs in Franklin. The Appeals court decision was viewed as a victory by the Family Foundation, which had filed the objection disputing the legality of the devices.

Under the court’s ruling, the lower court would be obligated to hear the Family Foundation’s appeal anew, a development that the racing commission’s motion seeks to avert.

The motion by the racing commission was joined by the state’s racetracks, which, for the most part, have been reluctant so far to install the devices because of the legal uncertainty surrounding the devices.

“Returning this matter to the trial court for irrelevant and protracted discovery will set the parties back two years or more from returning to this point again,” the motion states. “The uncertainty of this litigation may cause the [racetracks] to pull back and lose more ground in their battle for a competitive edge in racing. This ground may not be recoverable.”

The Family Foundation has argued that the devices are illegal under the state constitution, which bans all forms of wagering outside of the lottery and horse racing. Proponents of the machines contend that they are a form of parimutuel wagering.