Ky. Supreme Court hears arguments in Instant Racing case - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. Supreme Court hears arguments in Instant Racing case

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Is Instant Racing legal in Kentucky? The question is important to the state's racetracks.

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments that could settle the issue.

Two racetracks in Kentucky have Instant Racing. The court will decide whether the games can remain and expand, or whether the entire operation will be shut down.

In Instant Racing, players use a terminal to bet on previously run races. The racetracks say it's a way to generate much-needed revenue for purses.

Before the High Court, supporters of Instant Racing argue it's another form pari-mutuel betting, which is legal in Kentucky.

"The Racing Commission held hearings to approve these specific games and decided that they were pari-mutuel and appropriate and able to go forward," said William Hoskins, an attorney for Appalachian Racing.

"And it makes no difference that it's a video of a past race. It is a horse race. And it is a legitimate horse race," added Peter Ervin, an attorney for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

But the Family Foundation, which opposes Instant Racing, says it's more like slot machines and an illegal expansion of gambling.

"I do not believe that wagering on historical races is the functional equivalent of pari-mutuel wagering," argued Stan Cave, attorney for the Family Foundation. "Especially when it's on a device that displays a 2-foot by 3-foot, 3-second video of a bunch of horses that are already dead."

When it was over, both sides agreed that the future health of the horse industry is at stake.

"It's not the equivalent of slots and it's not the equivalent of casinos in other states, but the Racing Commission is doing the best that it can to promote and protect our signature industry," said Bill Lear, who represents several tracks, including Keeneland.

"The horse breeders in the state are not benefiting any from dead horses racing on videos. If we really want to help the horse industry in this state, then what we need to do is accentuate live racing, which is not what this is," said Martin Cothran, policy analyst for the Family Foundation.

Any decision will likely take several months.

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