09/07/2011 2:48PM

Kentucky Downs gaming machines draw $594K in five days

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Customers of Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky., have bet a total of $594,000 through the track’s new gambling machines in the first five days the devices have been in operation, according to data provided by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Wednesday.

The total is the first available figure for the machines, which use the results of previously run horse races to generate random numbers that determine payouts. Of the total wagered, $533,000 was returned to bettors, with the vast majority of the remainder, approximately $44,000, being retained by Kentucky Downs, which shares the money with Kentucky’s horsemen.

Corey Johnsen, the president of Kentucky Downs, told members of the racing commission at a meeting on Wednesday that the figures were in line with the track’s estimates and that he expected handle through the machines to grow over the next 30 days as customers became more familiar with how the machines operate.

The legality of the machines has been challenged in court by the Family Foundation, an anti-gambling group in Kentucky, with the first hearing in the appeal scheduled for October. The Family Foundation also filed a request for injunction to bar Kentucky Downs from operating the machines on Friday, but the judge who heard arguments for and against the injunction on Tuesday has not yet issued a statement.

Ron Geary, the owner of Ellis Park in western Kentucky, said after the meeting on Wednesday that he had not yet decided whether to apply for a license, citing the pending legal challenges.