Judge Says Betting on Dead Horses Okay

A Kentucky judge pushed the state farther down the path to allowing slot machines at racetracks Dec. 28 when he ruled that slot machine-like electronic games that have gamblers betting on “old” horse races can be considered to be parimutuel betting.

Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate, in an opinion sought by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the state’s racetracks, said the state’s plan for wagering on such machines is not an illegal expansion of gambling. The commission authorized the games for Kentucky’s horse racing tracks earlier in 2010 and then asked for the judge’s ruling on its constitutionality.

The commission’s plan was challenged by the Family Foundation of Kentucky which says it will appeal Wingate’s decision.

Racetracks are seeking to find a technicality or loophole to allow them to have slot machines at the tracks after failing to win approval for the devices in repeated attempts in the General Assembly. This particular game works by allowing players to make wagers on videos of past horse races. (In many instances, the actual horses are long dead.) They are provided handicapping information but the names of the horses, the date of the race and the track are not revealed.

In his ruling, the judge said that since the betting is on old horse races and that since betting on horse races is legal in Kentucky, the new machine does not represent an expansion of gambling in the state.

This seems to fly in the face of common sense as the racetracks certainly anticipate adding new revenue and new gamblers by introducing the new machines to their facilities. As they say, “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” In this case, it sure looks and sounds like a slot machine. Wonder why the judge can’t see the obvious?

Click here to read a story on the ruling from The Courier-Journal of Louisville.

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