Historic horse racing gambling machine. Source: OnlineGambling.com.

Kentucky Supreme Court undercuts historical horse racing

Chris Otts, reporting for WDRB TV Louisville, writes:

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday pulled the rug out from the state’s $2 billion slot-like gaming industry in a surprise decision that some lawmakers say requires a legislative response.

The high court unanimously ruled that the slot-like historical horse racing system in use at three of the state’s five gaming venues does not constitute pari-mutuel wagering, overturning a Franklin Circuit Court judge’s 2018 ruling.

Casino gambling is illegal in Kentucky, but the state horse racing commission regulates games that look and feel like slots but instead offer wagering on old horse races invisible to the gambler.

The ramifications of the high court’s 7-0 opinion were not immediately clear, but the elected justices seemed to acknowledge that they were effectively putting the brakes on the decade-old industry, saying that only Kentuckians acting “through their duly-elected legislators” can legalize the games.

Sen. Maj. Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown, the second-ranking member of the Republican leadership that controls the Senate, called the decision a “terrible” example of judges legislating from the bench.

“We’re literally talking about thousands of jobs and a huge economic impact for Kentucky,” Thayer said.

Thayer called on the Supreme Court to revisit the case and said justices and lawyers overlooked a key fact: that the legislature acted in 2014 to tax historical horse racing like other pari-mutuel wagering.

Short of the court reversing itself, Thayer said the decision “could reopen the door for casinos in Kentucky, which would be regrettable.”

Gov. Andy Beshear had urged the Supreme Court to uphold the legality of the industry.

“Historical horse racing is an important part of Kentucky’s economy that supports jobs and contributes over $21 million to the state budget,” Beshear said. “We are working with various partners to find a path forward.” Continue reading »

We say: Always follow the money, right?

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Featured Image: OnlineGambling.com

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