FRANKFORT — Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate on Wednesday ruled that The Family Foundation, a conservative advocacy group that opposes expanded gambling, can intervene in the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's "Instant Racing" case.
The state and Kentucky's racetracks have asked the court to rule on whether the commission properly amended regulations in July to allow betting on previously run races.
Wingate indicated he will want all parties to file briefs in the case first and intends to limit discovery.
He said he wants a better understanding of how "Instant Racing," or wagering on historical races, works.
Family Foundation attorney Stan Cave said the group has questions about whether the betting is truly pari-mutuel in nature. In pari-mutuel betting at racetracks, players bet against each other, not against the "house."
Cave said he filed open-records requests from the racing commission and state revenue department for documents used in their decision-making processes.
"I was stonewalled," Cave said.
Now, as an intervenor in the case, the Family Foundation may subpoena documents, but the state and the tracks argued that could bog down a ruling.
Paul Harnice, attorney for Keeneland, Turfway Park and Players Bluegrass Downs racetracks, pointed out that Wingate has ruled that an advance determination of the legality of wagering on previously run races could prevent a wrong action by the state or tracks.
"To say, 'I want to be a part so I can go out and scorch the earth (with discovery),' that defeats the very purpose of these actions," Harnice said.
Wingate questioned how far that should be limited.
"Do you think the court should understand what sort of machine this is before it rules? Because I really don't understand it," Wingate said.
He said he is open to allowing discovery as needed to shed light on how games like "Instant Racing" work and whether they are pari-mutuel wagering.
Family Foundation spokesman Martin Cothran said the organization is pleased to be allowed to join the case, although it has concerns about the limits.
"If they are opposing discovery, what is it they don't want discovered? We're glad the judge wants to know more," Cothran said.
A public hearing on the regulations is scheduled for Sept. 29.