Instant Racing Article 9-2011

September 2011

Video slot machines arrive in state; AG doesn’t act

 The Attorney General, the state’s highest ranking law enforcement officer, has the responsibility to investigate, but he isn’t.

After nearly two decades of debate, the legislature still has not authorized slot machines in Kentucky.  Unfortunately, that has not stopped those who want them to bring them into the state anyway.  With 200 such machines at Kentucky Downs race track, Attorney General Jack Conway has chosen not to investigate.

His absence of action is problematic because even though he wrote an opinion in January 2010 expressing how “Instant Racing” could possibly be authorized if the regulations were rewritten, he specifically noted on the first page that his opinion did not consider the legal questions around the machines themselves: “If regulatory or statutory changes are considered to permit this sort of wagering, the proponents should also be cognizant of the requirements of KRS Chapter 528 with regard to ‘gambling devices’ and consider whether amendments to that chapter are also in order.”

Clearly, in January of 2010, he understood that the machines themselves were likely unlawful. Now that there are photos and even video of the machines, many Kentuckians are scratching their heads at what appears to be an electronic slot machine.

Though there is an ongoing court case about their legality, the first time anyone in Kentucky saw the machines was the day after the grand opening when the Herald-Leader released a single, frontal photo that actually showed the play screen. During the grand opening, media covering the event were told not to video the machines.  Why?  Possibly to hinder the recognition of what exactly was being introduced.

Later, a supporter of The Family Foundation went to the site and actually videoed a machine in operation, allowing all to see its function on the Internet.

Conway’s difficulty is profound:  When The Family Foundation asked his assistance earlier this summer to secure a simple open records request that was being denied by the Racing Commission, he wrote in reply that he could not engage it because he had a “conflict”– presumably that his father sat on the state Racing Commission.  When formally asked by The Family Foundation to investigate the machines, he responded he did not want to “interfere with pending litigation.”

Either way, the Attorney General has sworn to uphold the constitution and the laws of the state.  If he cannot do it for personal reasons, then he can appoint independent counsel to do the investigation (which Conway has done in other instances).


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