Opponents say Instant Racing a Felony

As a western Kentucky horse track prepares to implement instant racing Thursday, a conservative policy group is announcing its latest attempt to stop the effort. The Family Foundation says Kentucky Downs is violating the state's gambling law by moving forward with instant racing, which allows players to bet on previously run horse races using a video terminal that looks like a slot machine. 

Breaking Kentucky's gambling law is currently only a misdemeanor, but Family Foundation executive director Kent Ostrander thinks it should be a felony. 

"In order to make it more painful for them, the penalty for violating these laws should simply be raised by the legislature. And as you notice, the legislature has been entirely left out of this decision making process." 

But Kentucky Downs believes instant racing is legal, because it follows Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regulations that were upheld by a Franklin Circuit Court Judge. The Family Foundation has appealed that ruling, and filed a legal brief [PDF] last week with the Court of Appeals. 

While they wait for a decision, Ostrander says his group will seek state lawmakers to sponsor a bill making the violation of gambling laws a Class D Felony. 

"Legislators know that they have been violated. Their branch of government has not authorized any of this. And so in essence the bringing of these machines in is basically the governor and the attorney general and what have you saying These things have been legal all along, we're just realizing that today.' And that is bogus." 

Kentucky Downs in Simpson County will be the first track in the state to try out instant racing when it launches the games on Thursday.