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(Update) Judge To Decide If ‘Historical Racing’ Games Can Use Cartoons

Slot Machines
Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Slot Machines

Monday afternoon update:

On Monday, a judge heard arguments over the legality of a type of slot machine that bases outcomes on previously recorded horse races.

Specifically, the court is deciding whether the machines can use cartoon representations of the races, a design used in machines produced by Encore Gaming.

Stan Cave, an attorney with the Kentucky Family Foundation, argued that the machines are illegal.

“We believe that, absent there being a video replay, it cannot fall within the exception to the prohibition of gambling under the Kentucky penal code,” Cave said.

State law prohibits gambling in Kentucky except on horse races that use “pari-mutuel” wagering — where individuals bet against one another and split winnings from a “pot.”

“The only pari-mutuel wagering that’s allowed in Kentucky is that on horse races,” Cave said. “A cartoon is not a horse race.”

The Kentucky Supreme Court previously ruled that it’s legal to bet on a “video replay” of a horse race, opening the door for historical racing machines, in which individuals bet on anonymous, previously run horse races that use the odds from the original event.

The Kentucky Family Foundation has argued that the machines are illegal since they were first approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in 2010.

Bill Hoskins, an attorney representing several race tracks that offer historical racing machines, argued that it doesn’t matter how machines represent the races as long as outcomes are based on results from competitions.

“The medium through which a horse race is viewed or recorded for future viewing has no effect on the race’s legitimacy,” Hoskins said.

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard the case in 2014 but sent it back down to the Franklin Circuit Court to determine if the machines are in fact pari-mutuel under state law.

The Family Foundation has split the case into two separate lawsuits: one dealing with the machines that use cartoon representations and another dealing with machines that use video recordings of races.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate said he’ll have a ruling on the cartoon-portion of the case soon.


Original Story:  

On Monday, a court will hear arguments over the legality of some electronic betting machines that base outcomes on horse races that have already taken place. Specifically, the arguments will deal with machines that use cartoon representations of the historical horse races (machines that use video of horse races are being dealt with in a separate lawsuit).

The Family Foundation of Kentucky has for years argued that both types of machines are illegal and technically just slot machines.

Kent Ostrander, executive director of the Kentucky Family Foundation, says that the cartoon machines — made by Encore Gaming — are required by state policy to use a video of the races.

“Not a video representation, not a cartoon, not a simulation, but an actual video of a horse race,” Ostrander said. “Since it doesn’t meet that standard, then it should be tossed out and they need to modify their game if they can.”

The machines — both cartoon and video — were approved by the Kentucky Racing Commission in 2010 but have been subject of an ongoing lawsuit brought on by the Family Foundation.

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard the case in 2014 but sent it back down to the Franklin Circuit Court to determine if the machines are in fact “parimutuel”— betting in which people can bet on the same “horse,” or outcome, and split the winnings.

The defendants in the case include several race tracks across the state and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

In a court filing, the KHRC said that the Family Foundation’s argument isn’t valid because the state Supreme Court only required the lower court to determine whether the machines are parimutuel, not evaluate whether the cartoon races count as a video of a horse race.

“Despite the Foundation’s assertions to the contrary, the issue before this court is not whether the computer generated graphical representation of a horse race approved for use on Encore terminals meets the definition of ‘video replay,’” the filing states.

“Instead, the issue, as clearly set forth in the conclusion of the Supreme Court’s opinion, is whether the licensed operation of wagering on historical horse racing constitutes a parimutuel form of wagering.”

The commission also argues that the phrase “video replay” isn’t limited to “actual film of a horse race.”

“The term is not so limited, nor should the Commission be bound to a single, stark definition of that term,” the filing states.

The racing organizations defending the case include Appalachian Racing, Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Lexington Trots Breeders Association, Bluegrass Downs and Turfway Park.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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