The state of Kentucky is synonymous with gambling. The home of Churchill Downs and several other prominent horse racing tracks, pari-mutuel betting has been going on for ages in the Bluegrass State. However, some gambling amusements like blackjack, roulette, slot machines and other casino games are off the legal gambling menu. A few years ago, some racetracks found a way around that by installing “historical race wagering” machines, and Turfway Park in Florence has announced plans to do the same.
photo courtesy www.nkytribune.com
|Turfway Park said it will be installing up to 250 of the legally-designed slot machines over the coming months. In a proposal to state regulators, the company said it’s planning to construct a 10,000 square foot addition to house the historic racing slots, and will employ an extra 35 staff members to work the new gaming floor.Once the historic racing slots open, Turfway Park will become the fourth race track in Kentucky to install the slots-like machines. Kentucky Downs in Franklin was the first to do so, deemed a form of “Instant Racing” wagering, in 2011. Henderson’s Ellis Park followed suit in 2012, and Red Mile in Lexington in September 2015.
The historical racing slots were first approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in 2010, at the same time asking the Supreme Court for its official opinion on whether the gaming devices were legal in the state. It wasn’t until 2014 that the courts ruled in favor of the slots-like gambling devices; a move that spurred Red Mile and Turfway Park into investing in the new machines.
“Historical Race Wagering” vs Real Slot Machines
To the average player, there’s really no difference between a slot machine and historical race wagering. They look the same, feel the same, the reels spin the same, and at a glance, even the payouts are delivered the same. But in reality, there’s a very distinct difference in the way payouts are determined; one that technically removes the dominant element of “chance” found in traditional slot machines.
Full House Resorts CEO Daniel Lee, whose company owns Indiana’s Rising Star Casino, explained the difference between slot machines and historic racing slots.
“The [traditional] slot machines here [at Rising Star] use a random number generator to determine whether you won or lost and the wheels spin to show you that outcome,” he said.
Historical racing slots “use a randomly generated horse race to show you whether you won or lost and spins the wheels to show you the result. It’s all done in a nanosecond,” he explained, “so to the customer there’s no difference. It looks and feels like a slot machine.”
Historic Racing Slots to Help Turfway Park Compete
With a throng of competition from casinos in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, not to mention other racetracks in Kentucky, the proposal from Turfway Park said the decision to install historic racing slots was necessary to better compete in an already saturated market.
“The introduction of historical race wagering will enable Turfway to provide competitive purse structures and provide amenities for our patrons, which will strengthen the horse racing industry in Kentucky,” the company said.
General Manager Daniel ‘Chip’ Bach said there is no timeline in place at the moment, as they are just now discussing the opportunity with contractors, but a launch of the legal slot machines in Spring 2016 is “entirely possible”.