LEXINGTON – The Family Foundation announced today the filing with the Kentucky Supreme Court of its reply brief to the Horse Racing Commission and several horse racing tracks in a case involving historical horse racing machines. This form of wagering is now being widely conducted in the state despite its questionable legality. The Court is expected to announce oral arguments soon, in a case that is in its tenth year of litigation.
“This case hinges on the question of who the bettor is betting against when he presses the button on a so-called ‘historical horse racing’ device,” said Martin Cothran, spokesman for the group. “If historical horse racing is truly pari-mutuel wagering, then the bettor must be betting against other bettors on the same event. That’s how pari-mutuel wagering works. But historical horse racing does not do this. These devices operate by a mathematical formula and the players have no reciprocal effect on one another.”
The brief, authored by The Family Foundation’s attorney Stan Cave, points out that the Horse Racing Commission’s regulatory definition of pari-mutuel wagering is: “a system of wagering approved by the Commission in which patrons are wagering among themselves and not against the association and amounts wagered are placed in one or more wagering pools and the net pool is returned to the winning patrons . . . If not pari-mutuel, the wagering is outside the scope of the statutory authority of the Commission and is unlawful.” (Reply Brief page 7)
The question of whether historical horse racing is pari-mutuel is important because pari-mutuel wagering is one of only three kinds of gambling allowed under Kentucky’s constitution, the others being charitable gaming and the Lottery. “If historical horse racing is not pari-mutuel,” said Cothran, “then it’s not constitutional.”
In 2010, the judge in the original trial refused to grant The Family Foundation discovery, which would have allowed it to ask questions of the Horse Racing Commission and Race Track witnesses. His judgment was later overturned and the case was sent back for discovery. The retrial has since concluded in the Franklin Circuit Court and the case has made its way back to the Kentucky Supreme Court.