UPDATE: Court hears high-stakes Kentucky ‘historical racing’ case


UPDATE POSTED 1:30 P.M. AUG. 14, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s Supreme Court on Friday delved into a high-stakes case over the legality of “historical racing” machines that are big moneymakers for racetracks and the state’s thoroughbred industry.

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Attorneys for racing interests and The Family Foundation argued over the intricacies of what constitutes pari-mutuel wagering. The conservative Family Foundation contends slot-like historical racing machines don’t meet pari-mutuel wagering standards under Kentucky law.

It’s the second time the case has come before Kentucky’s highest court.

Family Foundation attorney Stan Cave said Friday that historical racing prizes are determined by “mathematical formulas and pay tables,” not by pari-mutuel payout odds shown on racetrack tote boards. He said bettors “are not wagering among themselves on the same uncertain event or group of uncertain events as required by the regulatory definition.”

Citing the court’s prior decision, attorney Jay Ingle said: “What this court did not do was add any elements to that definition. That definition nowhere says it has to be on the same event. It doesn’t say you have to wager against each other. It says patrons have to wager among themselves collectively. They have to be betting into the same pool.”


FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Supreme Court today will hear oral arguments in a decade-old case over the state’s gambling devices.

The decision could significantly impact state revenues and casino attractions.

Arguments are set for 10 a.m. in the case that will clarify the legality or illegality of the thousands of gambling devices that have been moved into the state.

Stan Cave, attorney for The Family Foundation for the entire tenure of the case, will argue the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the state’s race tracks did not reach their burden of proving that these machines are, in fact, a form of pari-mutuel wagering, as required by Kentucky law.

When asked about the case earlier this week, Gov. Andy Beshear, whose father Steve Beshear pushed through the machines when he was governor, noted the revenue angle and added, “I think the machines are constitutional and should be declared constitutional.”

“Pari-mutuel” is a two-word French phrase literally meaning “wager mutually.” (“Pari” – to wager and “mutuel” – mutually, with, among, against.)  When a person is on his own machine, betting on his own race, pushing the button at his own time, EXACTLY WHO is he wagering with, among or against?  (No one.) Gambling on these devices is pari-SERIAL wagering – “one after the other” in series.

The second major question that will be answered by the Court deals with the Separation of Powers described in the Kentucky Constitution. The constitution provides the General Assembly makes policy; the courts settle disputes. Yet, in this case, Gov. Steve Beshear, directed the move.

In 2007, candidate Steve Beshear pledged to “Let the people decide” the question of expanded gambling. After being elected in 2007, the Legislature chose not to expand gambling for three years in a row, even though the House was controlled by the Governor’s own party.

Opponents of the move say Beshear directed the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to take the matter to court and have the courts decide whether the new gambling policy – expanded gambling via machines – would be the law.

The arguments can be livestreamed at:  www.ket.org/supremecourt   OR   https://kycourts.gov/courts/supreme/Pages/OralArguments.aspx