The Kentucky Supreme Court says the state can’t collect pari-mutuel taxes on instant racing games.
However, the Courier-Journal reports the high court also ruled Thursday that instant racing was legally implemented in the commonwealth.
Kentucky Downs in Franklin and Ellis Park in Henderson currently offer instant racing, which involves bettors wagering money on videos of previously run races.
Despite the ruling, justices said the conservative Family Foundation of Kentucky can continue its efforts to oppose Instant Racing. The group is gathering evidence for its legal challenge against the games, which it believes were implemented illegally.
State regulators have allowed pari-mutuel taxes to be collected on the games, but Thursday’s ruling by the Kentucky Supreme says those taxes only apply to live racing events.
Gov. Steve Beshear says he's a fan of Instant Racing for Kentucky's horse racing tracks—but he's not sure if legalizing the gambling format would be used to fund the state's struggling pension system.
Meanwhile, Beshear said casino gambling is not happening this year.
House Democratic leaders says they are looking at legalizing the slots-like game statewide to help generate at least $25 million a year to help fully fund pension obligations. Only two tracks, Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs, currently have the game.
Beshear did not commit fully to the idea, but said he will not allow lawmakers to ask for budget cuts in 2014 to help pay for pensions.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal concerning Instant Racing games being used at two racetracks in the listening area of WKU Public Radio.
Instant Racing uses videos of old horse races, with the identities of the horses, jockeys, and trainers concealed. Participants place wagers after seeing a brief video clip of the race in the corner of the screen. The games are currently being used at Kentucky Downs in Franklin and Ellis Park in Henderson.
The Courier-Journal reports it remains to be seen whether the Kentucky high court will decide, once and for all, whether Instant Racing games can operate in the Bluegrass State. The ruling being appealed was technical in nature, did not address the legality of the game and returned the case to the first court to hear the matter.
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.
A Kentucky Court of Appeals panel Wednesday afternoon is hearing arguments on the legality of the slot machine-like Instant Racing game being used at Kentucky Downs in Franklin and approved for Ellis Park in Henderson. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission last year approved Instant Racing, a game that lets gamblers place bets on old horse races using a machine similar to a slot machine.