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Casino.org reports big increase (85%-plus) in total handle for instant racing at Kentucky’s four venues


The total handle for instant racing in Kentucky jumped more than 85 percent in the 2019 fiscal year ending June 30, reports Steve Bittenbender for Casino.org.

Bittenbender attributes the growth in large part to the addition of Churchill Downs-owned Derby City Gaming in Louisville but notes that the Kentucky Downs in Franklin generates the most revenue of the state’s four betting parlors.

The betting is on instant racing machines, also known as historical racing (HHR) machines, that have the feel of slot machines. The result is determined by the outcome of a previously run race.

Derby City (Photo: Churchill Downs)

Patrons at the four venues in the state bet nearly $2.03 billion last year, up from the $1.09 million wagered the year prior, he reports.

Tax revenue went from $16.4 million for fiscal year 2018 to $30.4 million last year. Of that total, $13.5 million went to the state’s general fund, while the remainder went to thoroughbred development and other equine-related funds.

Derby City Gaming opened in mid-September. Its 995 machines still generated nearly $670.3 million in wagers.

The state’s three other parlors saw their handles increase from 2018, Bittenbender reports:

Ellis Park in Henderson saw a 19.8 percent handle increase as its 179 machines generated bets nearing $98 million last year. The track’s new owners, New Mexico-based Laguna Development Corp. (LDC), plans to invest more than $50 million in the track over the next year. A portion of that will be to expand the HHR facility and potentially add up to 900 machines.

In Lexington, the Red Mile, partnership with Keeneland, saw its 902 machines generate more than $328.7 million in bets last year, a 14.3 percent increase from fiscal year 2018.

Kentucky Downs , the state’s top parlor, generated more than $931 million in wagers with753 machines. That’s a 28.9 percent increase from fiscal year 2018 for the venue on the Tennessee state line, less than an hour away from Nashville.

Churchill Downs and Keeneland broke ground earlier this year on Oak Grove Racing and Gaming. The $150 million venue, under construction on the Tennessee border in western Kentucky, is scheduled to open next June and hold up to 1,500 machines.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has announced it will take arguments on whether the slot machine-like games are legal in the state. The Family Foundation of Kentucky has challenged whether the machines truly meet the definition of pari-mutuel betting. Casino gaming is illegal in the state.

See the full story here.


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