Keeneland, Red Mile Approved For Instant Racing

Apr 3, 2014

Keeneland Race Course and The Red Mile have been approved for instant racing and plan to open facilities in July 2015. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission unanimously approved the requests Wednesday.

Keeneland and Red Mile officials expect to reach similar levels of wagering as the only other sites in Kentucky that offer instant racing, Kentucky Downs in Franklin and Ellis Park in Henderson. They collectively take in about $30 million in wagering a month, with Kentucky Downs alone averaging about $1 million a day.

Approval is pending agreements with horsemen to determine how much revenue they'll receive.

Keeneland expects to build a 50,000 square foot parlor and install 600 terminals, while The Red Mile wants to build a 40,000 square foot parlor onto its grandstand and install 500 machines.

Kevin Willis

A federal judge in Texas has ruled against Churchill Down Incorporated in a challenge over online gambling laws.

The Louisville-based company was hoping the judge would throw out a Texas law that bans internet gambling offered by the racetrack’s website.

The Courier-Journal reports the Texas  Racing Commission has recently started to enforce a law requiring that all gambling on horse racing be done in person at the racetrack. The law was later revised by Texas authorities to explicitly outlaw online wagering.

Churchill claimed the “in person” part of the law was a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause. But the Texas judge rejected that argument, saying that Churchill Downs and other racetracks can reach gamblers in the Lonestar State through simulcasting—something that is permitted under Texas law.

Churchill started in 2007 in order to take bets online and over the phone.

For the first time, the state has official figures on how much money Kentuckians bet online or over the phone on horse races that take place in the commonwealth. State Senator Damon Thayer says about $47 million was wagered in the first half of the year.

Supporters of instant racing in Kentucky are once again trying to take their case to the state supreme court. Instant racing games allow players to wager on previously-run horse races using slot-machine like-devices. The Franklin Circuit Court previously ruled that the games are legal, but an appeals court sent the decision back, saying  the anti-gambling Family Foundation should've been allowed to gather evidence in the case.

The owner of Ellis Park in Henderson says he hopes to expand the horse track’s gambling options by Labor Day. Ron Geary wants to move ahead with plans to install instant racing machines, despite an ongoing lawsuit over the legality of those games in Kentucky.

A decision is expected within six weeks over whether Instant Racing is legal in Kentucky. The state’s Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case Wednesday. Instant Racing is a slots-like game that Kentucky racetracks hope to use to boost race purses. But the Family Foundation of Kentucky says the game isn’t pari-mutuel betting like horse racing, but instead is closer to a slot machine.

Kentucky Legislative Research Commission

While Senate President David Williams and other GOP state lawmakers have expressed criticism of the Governor's expanded gambling plans, at least one Senate Republican says he'll help Beshear. Kevin Willis has this story about Scott County Senator Damon Thayer.