Instant Racing machines open to the public at Ky. Downs on Thursday

08/31/2011 07:56 AM

They sort of look like slot machines and they cost 25 cents to play. And the owner of Kentucky Downs race track in Franklin, Ky., said he hopes those 200 newly-installed “Instant Racing” machines boost business at the small, turf-only racetrack on the Tennessee border.

The section with Instant Racing machines will open to the public on Sept. 1 — even before a court challenge brought by the Family Foundation is over.

Kentucky Downs is turf-only, European style ice-cream cone shaped track which has live racing only a handful of days per year.

But the installation of the Instant Racing machines could make Kentucky Downs a destination, said track president Corey Johnsen.

“Instant Racing at Kentucky Downs will have a tremendous economic impact on this area from the tourism to the jobs we’ve created to the increase in racing,” Johnsen said. “I think it could be really, really important for this part of Kentucky.” (see the 1:10 mark of the clip)

The Instant Racing machines let patrons wager on past races with some handicapping information given before the race is run. Bettors wager against other people who have bet on the same race, and payouts to the winner are based accordingly. Its what’s known as pari mutuel wagering, and is how betting at all racetracks is done.

“You’ll never know the name of your horse prior to making your wager,” Johnsen said. “The race runs and it’s actually just the last few seconds of the race. That determines the numbers, which then go into the pari mutuel wagering pool in a visually exciting way, and that’s how you win in instant racing.” (see the :23 second mark of the clip)

The Family Foundation has challenged whether Instant Racing is a form of slot machine gambling. The case is currently pending before an Appeals Court after the Franklin Circuit Court ruled in December that the machines were legal.

Kentucky Downs will now be able to operate seven days a week and expand its simulcasting offerings. Instant Racing has helped the track create 90 new jobs as well.

- Video and reporting by Chris Bratton, produced by Lanny Brannock

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