Kentucky Supreme Court rules against historic racing machines

Kentucky Supreme Court rules against historic racing machines
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
The Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday the slot-like “historical racing” system that has fueled massive purse growth in the commonwealth does not constitute pari-mutuel wagering, overturning a 2018 Circuit Court ruling.

Kentucky’s historical racing machines allows players to bet on old horse races with losing wagers going into the total prize pool. While a Franklin County Circuit Court judge previously ruled the system constitutes pari-mutuel wagering by placing wagers in “designated pools,” the Supreme Court disagreed with the interpretation:

"Emphatically, such patrons are not wagering among themselves as required by pari-mutuel wagering,” the ruling read. Read in full here.

“We acknowledge the importance and significance of this industry to this Commonwealth. We appreciate the numerable economic pressures that impact it,” the high court continued. “If a change, however, in the long-accepted definition of pari-mutuel wagering is to be made that change must be made by the people of this Commonwealth through their duly-elected legislators, not by an appointed administrative body and not by the judiciary.”

There are currently four venues operating historical racing machines in Kentucky with more in the pipeline. WDRB.com reports revenue from the system has increased from $370 million in 2015 to $2.26 billion for fiscal year 2020, ending June 30, with a significant chunk of that going toward purses.


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