Judge refuses to halt instant racing

FRANKFORT — A judge on Thursday denied a request for a preliminary injunction that would have idled instant racing machines at the Kentucky Downs racetrack in Franklin in southern Kentucky.

Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Glenn E. Acree said The Family Foundation had failed to show an immediate and irreparable injury in requesting the injunction.

The conservative advocacy group had essentially asked the Court of Appeals to shut down the machines as part of an appeal to a lower court ruling last December that held the games were legal.

Acree said in the ruling that the harm alleged is substantial and that the alleged violation of criminal statutes is a matter of great concern. The Court of Appeals will revisit the issue in October.

Kent Ostrander, executive director of The Family Foundation, said he still expects to prevail in the case. He said installing the slot machine-like games is a major departure from state law and policy.

"Every Kentuckian should be concerned about a potential change in policy of this magnitude without input from elected representatives or voters," Ostrander said.

Kentucky Downs spokesman Bill Flesher applauded the ruling, saying he thinks it confirms that the track is on solid footing legally by offering instant racing.

Kentucky Downs President Corey Johnsen told the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Wednesday that the games are performing up to initial expectations.

"I would tell you we're very enthused by the early results," he said.

Kentucky has a long tradition of allowing gambling on horse races. Gambling proponents have been pushing in recent years to expand gambling to allow slots at horse tracks to support the weakened horse racing industry. Three years ago, they also pressed to legalize casinos but have been rebuffed.

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