News and STORIES

An update on the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Kentucky Horse Racing

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Thursday October 22, 2020


There is still a lot going on regarding the Kentucky Supreme Court's recent decision last month to deem slot machine type horse bets illegal. According to the state's laws, they do not fulfill the pari-mutuel gambling regulations revolving around whom a bettor is betting against, in this case, the machine.

The angst amongst the Kentucky racing industry is high right now as they try to find a new stream of revenue that can help replace the void that the Supreme Court's ruling will leave behind. The slots create significant funding sources within the horse racing industry and for the entirety of Kentucky and many of its' citizens. The billion-dollar horse racing industry has been growing each year over the past few, but with this new law, that could very much change; we will not know for sure until Covid-19 restrictions end, and things are operating normally again.

What's happened since the ruling?

Several of the biggest names with the Kentucky horse racing industry have pleaded for reconsideration by the legislatures who pushed this law into effect. The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Breeders' Cup, and even the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce came forth due to recognizing how much of an impact this will have on their industry.

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz came along and stated his concerns and plans regarding this as well; here is what he said: "I would like to discuss the elephant in the room, which is the Supreme Court opinion, I cannot say too much, but if the current Supreme Court decision stands, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will find a solution."

The excellent thing revolving around this situation is that it remains on the agenda; it will be addressed with a solution eventually, once determined. All sides would love to see this work out for the best because it affects a lot of lives and financial situations. The governor of Kentucky has been in touch with Rabinowitz to help aid in the conquest to solve this matter; "…after having numerous conversations with the governor, it's clear that the governor and his team are committed to finding a solution."

One of the arguments to reverse the decision is the alteration in the definition of pari-mutuel; since the first case took place in 2014, the language has changed. The Supreme Court is firm on upholding the law's legislative language. Until the definition of pari-mutuel applies to the slot machine horse races, it will be hard to see change.

Going forward:

Expect more announcements shortly detailing what the plan will be to proceed and replace this industry; there is too much at stake for nothing supplemental to eventually be brought forth and instilled. If the law is not changed to allow for slot races to fit the pari-mutuel definition, there will be an alternative solution presented by either the state of Kentucky or the leaders within the horse racing industry.

What would you rather have happen, reverse the laws to allow slot machine-like horse betting, or the implementation of a new type of revenue-generating stream for fans and bettors to take part in?