Instant Racing Decision Overturned

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has sent a lawsuit over the constitutionality of “instant racing” machines back to the circuit court level after ruling that the rules of pre-trial discovery were violated when the court first heard the case. The Family Foundation had sought to participate in a lawsuit over the Kentucky Racing Commission’s decision to allow racetracks to open what are essentially slot machine parlors but was denied adequate access to material.

 The machines seem to be an effort to subvert the intent of the state constitution to only allow betting on live horse races in Kentucky. The instant racing machines pool gamblers’ money and show a few seconds of an old horse race in the corner of a video screen that otherwise looks and acts exactly like a slot machine.

Kentucky Downs in Franklin is the only racetrack to use the machines so far. The appeals court decision does not require the track to shut down its machines, however, because the decision deals with the fairness of the trial process rather than the question of constitutionality itself. The ruling means that the Family Foundation will have access to additional information to which it was previously denied and that the case will have to be heard again by the Franklin Circuit Court.

Here’s the text of a press release from the Family Foundation on the ruling:

LEXINGTON, KY—“Finally, we have a level playing field,” said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for The Family Foundation. “Until now, we had  relegated to a back seat in the courtroom, unable to do discovery and ask any questions.”

Today’s opinion from the Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the Franklin Circuit Court which had allowed wagering on videos of previously run horse races by use of electronic betting devices.

“Today’s opinion is a victory for transparency,” said Stan Cave, attorney for The Family Foundation, who argued the case both in the Franklin Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals. “The Court of Appeals found that it was in error for the Franklin Circuit Court to deny The Family Foundation all rights of pre-trial discovery in the lower court proceeding.”

Cothran maintains that until now, for some reason relevant questions were kept under a shroud of secrecy.  “With an issue as ripe for corruption as expanded gambling, the public has a right to question, know and understand the underlying facts relating to the gambling activity and the special interests involved,” said Cothran.

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

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