Racetrack Unilaterally Expands Gambling

It’s a sad day in the commonwealth as Kentucky Downs in Franklin unilaterally expands gambling without legislative or voter approval. The racetrack today opens a new gambling parlor with 200 “instant racing” machines.

The racetrack is trying to claim that these machines are somehow “parimutuel” games because users are really just betting on old horse races when they push the button. However, anyone with eyes can see that these are actually slot machines. Click here and check out the photos in this story in the Aug. 31 issue of The Courier-Journal in Louisville to see the games being installed. With names like “Cash Carnival,” “Wild West Willy’s Lucky Draw” and “Cruising for Cash,” it is obvious that the games have very little, if anything, to with horseracing.

The question of the whether the machines are legal is awaiting a ruling by the Kentucky Court of Appeals after the governor-appointed Kentucky Racing Commission’s decision to allow them was challenged by The Family Foundation of Kentucky. There has yet to be a ruling in that case and all other racetracks in the state have decided that they had better wait for a ruling before moving forward with their own machines.

One of the ironic things about these machines is that they are being installed under the banner of helping “save” horse racing. In the long run, however, any kind of casino-type expansion of gambling is likely to only speed the demise of this sport as gamblers move from the relatively slow pace of betting on the horses to the fast-paced, machine-driven gambling that empties pockets much more quickly. As we’ve said before, expanded gambling is bad for the economy, bad for state government and bad for the people of Kentucky.

The embedded video is from the Family Foundation of Kentucky’s press conference in the capitol rotunda in Frankfort yesterday.

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