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Family Foundation targets attorney general in instant racing fight

Kentucky Downs has 200 instant racing machines that allow bets on historical races. The pari-mutuel handle over a 19-day period compared to 2010 rose 176 percent for the track.
Kentucky Downs has 200 instant racing machines that allow bets on historical races. The pari-mutuel handle over a 19-day period compared to 2010 rose 176 percent for the track.

The Family Foundation of Kentucky on Wednesday asked Attorney General Jack Conway to enforce a state law that it says prevents the operation of instant racing horse wagering machines at racetracks.

The move is the latest attempt by the conservative advocacy group, which recently lost a step in its court battle, to stop the machines that allow bets on historical races.

Kent Ostrander, executive director of the group, said the operation of the games at Kentucky Downs in southern Kentucky contradicts an attorney general's opinion issued last year that noted instant racing operators should "be cognizant of the requirements" of state law about "gambling devices."

Ostrander said the 200 instant racing machines in use at Kentucky Downs, in Franklin, are so much like conventional slot machines that they qualify as "gambling devices" under state law.

A spokeswoman for Conway, Allison Martin, said the office received the letter but noted the issue is currently pending before the state Court of Appeals.

"It would be inappropriate for us to take action of any kind," she said.

The Family Foundation was recently denied a request for a preliminary injunction that would have idled the machines at Kentucky Downs, the only track so far to install the expanded gambling option. The judge in the case said the group had failed to show an immediate and irreparable injury in requesting the injunction; however, he noted 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.

The machines have boosted revenue at Kentucky Downs, which ended its four-day meet earlier this week. Total pari-mutuel handle, including betting on instant racing, was up 176 percent compared to the same 19-day period in 2010, according to a news release from the track.

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