Instant Racing Machines
KY Supreme Court rules in Instant Racing case
In a unanimous opinion, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has the legal authority to regulate wagers on previously run horse races presented on electronic gambling machines, called "instant racing machines" — but that the legality of the wagers themselves has yet to be established. These machines are similar to slots in a regular casino, but are often found at race tracks. The court said the case must go back to Franklin Circuit Court, where it originated, to determine whether this is a legal form of gambling. Below is a copy of the majority opinion in the case.
KY Opinion Affirming and Reversing Instant Racing Machines
In addition, below is a copy of the oral arguments in the case. Both pieces are great to read if you want to learn more about Instant Racing Machines.
KY Instant Racing Machine Oral Argument
Information on instant racing machines
Below is a memo that outlines the case against instant racing machines. This is a great read to become more educated on the topic of instant racing machines, how they work, and how the are different from conventional horse-race betting.
Arkansas Instant Racing Memo
Instant Racing Machines: Coming soon to Texas?
This article from the Dallas Observer
explains why Instant Racing Machines may soon be coming to Texas. These machines have already come to Arkansas and Kentucky, though a major court case is underway in Kentucky challenging them, and Texas may be the next destination. Though some try and argue that these machines are no different than betting on a live horse race, these machines are little more than slots in disguise.
You may soon be able to bet on races that have already happened
How gambling interests describe instant racing machines
Below is a screenshot of how gambling interests describe instant racing machines. Even though anyone can see that these machines are little more than an extension of slot machines, gambling interests continue to describe them as "pari-mutuel betting".
What’s it like to play an instant racing machine?
Attached is a first-hand account from Debbie Blank and Pat Loonjer, both of Nebraska and both members of Stop Predatory Gambling, regarding what it's like to play an instant racing machine- a growing trend at race tracks across the country. Gambling interests paint these machines as no different than betting on a live horse race, but reading this account shows how far that is from reality.
Field Trip to Ellis Park
A summary of the instant racing debate
New to the issue of instant racing machines? Read this terrific summary that details state-by-state the major debates going on around the country regarding these machines. It also gives a synopsis of what instant racing is and draws the conclusion that instant racing machines are very similar in many ways to regular slot machines.
State-by-state summary of instant racing debate
Proposal to withdraw rules for the installation of instant racing machines
This attached letter is a proposal sent to the executive director of the Texas Racing Commission, Chuck Trout, asking him to withdraw proposals for the installation of instant, or historical, racing machines. The author argues that these machines are no different than slot machines, which are banned in Texas. Also included is the patent for these machines as well as an affidavit regarding an experience with these machines.
Video: Watch an instant racing machine in action
Many of the gambling interests have argued that instant racing machines are similar to betting on a live horse race and that they should be allowed in states where slot machines are not because they are different than slot machines. Others argue that in practice these machines are little more than slot machines in disguise. Watch for yourself and see what you think: Does this look like a horse race or a slot machine to you?
Maryland attorney general comes out against instant racing machines
Below is a copy of the opinion of Douglas Gansler, the attorney general for the state of Maryland, wherein he explains that he does not believe instant racing machines are legal, due to the fact that they do not use pari-mutuel betting (betting against a pool rather than against the house) and are thus a form of slot machine, which is not allowed at Maryland race tracks. This opinion represents a large development because the legal arm of government has begun not to support these machines.
Maryland Attorney General Opinion
Nebraska attorney general on instant racing machines
Attached is a copy of the Nebraska attorney general's opinion regarding a bill that discusses whether or not instant racing machines are legal under the Nebraska constitution. In the end, the attorney general, Jon Bruning, concludes that, "LB 1102's attempt to authorize wagering on the results of previously run horse races through the use of IRTs [instant racing terminals] resembling slot machines or other video gambling devices does not constitute a form of parimutuel wagering which the Legislature may permit". In other words, according to the attorney general, under the Nebraska constitution, instant racing machines, or terminals, are not legal methods of gambling.
Nebraska attorney general opinion1
Nebraska attorney general opinion2
Graphic Presentation or video: does it matter?
The Franklin Circuit judge ruled that a graphic representation is as good as a video and does not affect the issue before his court which is whether the gambling is pari-mutuel. In one small concession to The Family Foundation, Judge Wingate granted the Foundation two more months for discovery on whether the machines are pari-mutuel. The defendants have been less than cooperative, hence the extension.
While the case drags through the courts, the tracks continue to make money. Kentucky Downs, near Franklin, Ellis Park in Henderson and the Red Mile/Keeneland tracks have taken in $641 million in bets since the beginning of this year. While they only keep about 10%, something over $60 million is a tidy addition to the profit line. The tracks have asked for a summary judgment that the new Encore game is pari-mutuel. Stan Cave, our lawyer, is soldiering on. Pray for him. The games are not pari-mutuel, but that does not mean the court will rule that way.
In Kentucky horse racing has outsize power and strong control of the Kentucky House. While we believe we are in the right, that does not mean we will win.
Janet Patton, “Horse graphics OK in historical racing game, judge finds,” Lexington Herald-Leader,
July 31, 2016, page 3A.