Legal Challenges May Delay Instant Racing At Horse Tracks

Anti-gambling groups are planning to appeal Wednesday’s ruling in Franklin Circuit Court upholding the legality of Instant Racing at Kentucky horse tracks. The groups say the practice of wagering on races that have already been run is similar to playing slot machines.

Thoroughbred Times news editor Ed DeRosa says Instant Racing is not the same as slot machine gambling, but it is similar. The results are not completely random, but there’s not enough information available for experienced handicappers to use traditional horse race wagering strategies.

Despite those differences, DeRosa says if Instant Racing passes final legal muster, slot machines will likely be next.

“I can’t speak for the tracks, they haven’t said this, but my personal feeling is that this is the gateway drug. That they’re hoping legislators and constituents in Kentucky see that expanding gaming can work at race tracks.”

DeRosa says tracks that benefit from Instant Racing will likely use their success to lobby for slot machines and other casino-style gambling to be legalized in Kentucky

“They’d be able to say, ‘Well, look, we’re contributing x percent more to the state than we did. Look at what more we could contribute with actual casino-style slot machines,'” he says.

DeRosa says tracks will likely wait until the case is settled before investing in Instant Racing technology. Churchill Downs may wait even longer, he says, due to its success with traditional racing and its proximity to casinos in Indiana.