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

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

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. 

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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