Are these devices really pari-mutuel? Oral arguments next in Historical Racing case.

After almost 10 years, the question will be decided: Can wagering BY YOURSELF still be considered “pari-mutuel”

“From my vantage point, this whole case is a farce,” said Kent Ostrander, executive director of The Family Foundation. “It’s all about the horse racing industry trying to consolidate a monopoly on all kinds of gambling in Kentucky by circumventing the General Assembly – people’s Branch of government.” (More details in story on page 4.)Stan Cave, The Family Foundation’s attorney, offered his Appellate Brief to the Kentucky Supreme Court on Sept. 6, the gambling industry offered its Response Briefs(three of them) on Nov. 5, and then Cave tendered his Reply Brief on Nov. 21. (At press time, the date for oral arguments had not yet been set.)

Two Major Breaches

Though there have been many suspicious irregularities during the case and many major points to contest, The Family Foundation has maintained two key principles through all the different stages of the case, either one could settle the case favorably:

First, this is a public policy decision – to expand gambling –and it should be done by the legislature, not by a judge making new law from the bench. This is particularly important because of recent history: Gov. Steve Beshear, “The Gambling Governor,” promised Kentucky he would “Let the people decide, ”yet after he repeatedly tried to pass legislation and was rebuffed by the legislature every time, he deliberately had his Kentucky Horse Racing Commission pursue a judicial decision. Policy determinations do not belong in the courts; they belong in the legislature where debate and votes will decide a matter. To be clear, there are thousands of these gambling devices operating and authorized in Kentucky, yet no legislator has ever voted for that change – no legislator, no commit-tee and no Chamber has ever voted.

Secondly, it is common sense wisdom that there is no way these games can be “pari-mutuel.” Consider: “pari-mutuel” is a French phrase that’s means pari – “to wager” and mutuel – “with, among, or mutually.” OR, it simply means “betting among others.

”If a person who is sitting at his own machine, and the machine chooses his own race,” and he puts his money in at his own time, and he pushes his wager button at his own moment, WHO IS HE WAGERING AGAINST? If he is betting against others, who is he or she or they? At almost 10 years into the case, no one has answered that question.

The gambling attorneys have done all kinds of flips to avoid that question and to distract the Court from focusing on it. Bluntly, if they had a good, believable answer that was clear, The Family Foundation would, of necessity, lose the case. But they have never had a legitimate answer to the question.

“Irregularities” in the case

Even more suspect than the actual issues of the case are the numerous “irregularities” that have bubbled up at various times. Here are just a few of those “irregularities” that transpired:

  • How did a member of KEEP (Kentucky Equine Education Project) find herself as the judge’s clerk and writing the judge’s opinion on the case? (KEEP leaders had boasted that they were responsible for bringing “historical horse racing” to Kentucky.)
  • Why would one of the pro-gambling law firms in the case hire the judge’s son during the case? Would that effect his judgment if he thought, “Will they fire him if I rule against them?”
  • How could a judge choose to bar all discovery from The Family Foundation when discovery is a constitutional right?

Regardless of these and other irregularities, it is never right for the court system to create a new policy– like expanding gambling. That’s for the legislature!

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