Instant Racing Article 8-2010

August 2010 – Opinion

The latest attempt to hoodwink Kentuckians

They’re pulling another fast one. This time in court.

201008 FThe issue of expanded gambling has been debated in Kentucky for over a decade.  The first time around, the advocates of expanded gambling tried to convince state lawmakers to pass a Constitutional amendment to bring casinos into the state.  After several unsuccessful attempts, they gave up.

Then they changed their strategy and came back again, demanding that the legislature pass a Constitutional amendment to put slot machines at horse tracks.  After several tries, they failed again.

Having failed repeatedly with two different strategies, they came up with another one: convince people that we really don’t need a Constitutional amendment to expand gambling in the state.  Tell them that what they really passed in 1989 was not a lottery, like they were told, but that they really approved casino-style gambling, even though they didn’t know it, and that the Constitution would allow putting slot machines at horse racing tracks and give them monopoly control over them.  But despite having the support of powerful political figures in Frankfort, they failed again.

What could they do now?

After repeatedly failing to convince elected lawmakers that expanding gambling in Kentucky is good for the state, the gambling industry is now attempting a new strategy: try to bring slot machines in under the cover of an attractive sounding name – “Instant Racing.”

In Instant Racing, low-end gamblers would be attracted to horse tracks by machines that play videos of old horse races which gamblers individually bet on.  Since they are betting on horse races, they argue, it’s just like any other kind of pari-mutuel betting, which is already allowed under state law.

There’s only one problem with the strategy: like every other strategy the forces of expanded gambling have attempted, it’s based on untruths.  Instant Racing involves nothing more than glorified slot machines.  The only difference is the name.

Pari-mutuel betting on live horse races has long been allowed in the state.  But Instant Racing is not betting on live horses.  Many of the horses shown on Instant Racing machines assumed room temperature a long time ago.  Just like slot machines, Instant Racing machines will be able to consume vast quantities of money from low-end gamblers at a frenzied pace.

A Maryland Supreme Court decision ruled in that Instant Racing is not pari-mutuel racing, since pari-mutuel racing involves bettors in a betting pool, and they have a role in setting the odds.  But Instant Racing does not do this.  An Attorney General’s opinion from Jack Conway’s office found the same thing earlier this year.

But this hasn’t stopped expanded gambling advocates from trying anyway.  Their strategy this time attempts to completely bypass elected lawmakers and instead involves trying to convince a Frankfort court to give them a stamp of approval.

The Beshear Administration, at the behest of several horse tracks, says it is moving ahead with a regulation to implement Instant Racing.  Having failed to convince the people’s representatives, they will now try their luck before a hopefully friendly judge, filing an unusual motion in the Franklin Circuit Court that asks the court to give them a piece of paper they can wave before the media to say that what they are doing is legal.

Hopefully, the justice system will see through the latest attempt to short-circuit the state’s policy-making process.

The gambling industry has already corrupted the election process by dropping huge amounts of cash (lost by gamblers in other states) into the campaign coffers of politicians willing to do their bidding.  Then they tried to pick off anti-slots legislators in the General Assembly and replace them with their friends.  Now they are trying to distort the legal process itself.

Hopefully, they will fail again.

P.O. Box 911111 Lexington, KY 40591 859-255-5400