Kentucky Pushes Ahead

Faced with repeated failures by the legislature to legalize casino gaming, state officials in Kentucky look to online lottery games and Instant Racing at racetracks.

The state of Kentucky is searching for revenues from gaming that can make up for the money it is not making from casinos. After years of legislative failure to pass a bill or constitutional amendment that would permit casinos or slots at racetracks, state officials are looking to online lottery sales and Instant Racing.

The Kentucky Lottery Corporation has issued a request for proposals to create an online lottery system. The lottery plans to launch an internet platform, and identify a provider by the fall.  According to iGaming Business, the KLC expects to launch online sales for multi-state drawing games such as Powerball by the middle of next year, with more unspecified online offerings to come later.

Meanwhile, operators of the state’s storied racetracks, who have complained that they cannot compete with tracks in surrounding states that offer slots, have turned to Instant Racing, which are slot-like machines approved a few years ago by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that allow bettors to wager on fields from anonymous historical races, and then watch video footage of the race, collecting winnings as at a slot machine.

Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park already offer the machines, and Keeneland Race Course and Red Mile got the commission’s approval to add them earlier this year.

Last week, however, Keeneland officials announced the track is delaying its plans to build a parlor for Instant Racing indefinitely, as it prepares to host the 2015 Breeders’ Cup. Keeneland COO Vince Gabbert told the Louisville Courier-Journal the track is “staying in planning mode” on the Instant Racing parlor.

Keeneland is approved for 600 Instant Racing machines; Red Mile will have 500. Both tracks are slated to launch them by next year. Keeneland also plans an Instant Racing parlor at the Thunder Ridge harness track, which it plans to buy and move closer to the Tennessee state line.