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Law Article: More states look to legalize bets on old horse races

Filed Under: Legislation
More on: nebraska, racetracks, winnebago

An artist's rendering, from 2012, that shows a proposed casino at the former Atokad racetrack in South Sioux City, Nebraska. The Winnebago Tribe plans to open an events center named Atokad Park at the site.

Attorneys discuss efforts to legalize betting on old horse races through electronic gaming machines:
Instant Racing, also known as Historical Horse Racing, is an electronic terminal game that allows players to bet on short video replays of the last few seconds of old horse races. All of the identifying information about the races is removed from the video clips. There are a variety of machines on the market, however many very closely resemble slot machines with spinning reels that correspond to the results of the wager and the races. Accordingly, the Instant Racing machines can offer a casino-like experience at existing racetracks or off-track betting facilities.

Supporters of the games argue that they constitute pari-mutuel betting and are simply a new way to bet on horse racing. Opponents argue that they are nothing more than slot machines specifically designed to take advantage of favorable state horse racing laws. One state Supreme Court went as far as calling the Instant Racing devices “a slot machine that attempts to mimic traditional pari-mutuel wagering.”

The concept of Instant Racing has been sold politically to legislative bodies as an economic opportunity to revive a struggling horse racing industry. Proponents of the games have compared them to other types of exotic wagers allowed at horse races such as a “Pick Six,” where bettors at different tracks try to win a jackpot that can carry over from one day to the next.

The impacts to tribes will be greatly varied based on state laws, tribal-state compacts and geography. In some instances, Instant Racing could present tribes with a substantial business opportunity. However, it could also become direct competition for tribal gaming in states permitting Instant Racing, or for tribal gaming in neighboring states that rely on a cross-border customer base.

Get the Story:
Charles W. Galbraith, Catherine F. Munson, Rob Roy Edward Stuart Smith, Robert C. Harmala and John C. F. Loving: State legislatures looking at expanding slot machine type gaming through 'Instant Racing' (Lexology 8/4)
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