Instant Racing

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Instant Racing, known generically as historical race wagering, is an electronic gambling system that allows players to bet on replays of horse races or dog races that have already been run.[1] Some Instant Racing terminals resemble slot machines.[2][3] Instant Racing is a product of AmTote in partnership with Oaklawn Park.[4]


Gameplay begins when a player deposits his wager, and a race is randomly selected from a video library of over 60,000 previous races.[5][6] Identifying information such as the location and date of the race, and the names of the horses and jockeys, is not shown.[6][7] The player is able to view "Skill Graph" charts from the Daily Racing Form,[5] showing information such as the jockeys' and trainers' winning percentages.[8] Based on this handicapping information, the player picks the projected top three runners in order of finish.[5] Most players use the "handi helper" feature, which allows the machine to automatically make the selections on the player's behalf.[8]

Payouts are based on traditional pari-mutuel processes.[7] The player's wager is divvied up into several "betting pools" for different winning possibilities, such as picking the winner of the race, picking the top three finishers in exact order, or any of the three selections finishing first and second.[9] The machine then shows a video replay of all or a portion of the race. If the player achieved a particular type of "win", he receives the money from that pool, while the money in each of the other pools continues to accumulate until another bettor wins it.[9]

Early versions of instant racing terminals closely resembled self-serve wagering terminals.[8] Some later terminals began to mimic slot machines, with symbols on spinning reels corresponding to the results of the player's wager, and the video of the race occupying only a 2-inch square in the corner of the display.[8]


The idea of historical race wagering was conceived by Eric Jackson, general manager of Oaklawn Park. He brought the idea to three major companies in January 1997, but found no takers. Later in the year, he met with Ted Mudge, president of AmTote, who liked the idea and asked Jackson to present it to experts at a February 1998 racing industry gathering in Maryland. The project gathered momentum from there.[10] The Arkansas General Assembly took steps in 1999 to authorize Instant Racing by removing the requirement that simulcast races be shown live.[11] A test deployment was launched in January 2000 at Oaklawn Park and Southland Greyhound Park, with 50 machines at each track.[12] The machines proved popular and Jackson reported that as many as a dozen other tracks were pursuing approval to install the machines within two months of the test.[13]

The Oregon Racing Commission approved Instant Racing machines at the state's racetracks in April 2003.[14] Twenty units were installed at Multnomah Greyhound Park the next month. The terminals were moved to Portland Meadows in October.[15] They were removed in November 2003 at the direction of the tracks' parent company, Magna Entertainment.[15] The Commission in 2006 approved a request from Magna to bring the game back to Portland Meadows,[16] but then reversed itself a year later under pressure from Attorney General Hardy Myers, who believed the machines to be illegal.[17][18] The state enacted a new law legalizing Instant Racing in June 2013.[19]

Instant Racing machines were installed at Wyoming's four off-track betting parlors beginning in July 2003,[20] after approval of the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission.[21] The machines' legality was soon called into question by the state Attorney General, and they were removed in 2005 following a court ruling.[22] The Wyoming Supreme Court ultimately ruled them illegal in 2006, calling the game "a slot machine that attempts to mimic traditional pari-mutuel wagering".[23] In 2013, the state legislature re-legalized Instant Racing.[24]

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission modified its definition of parimutuel wagering in July 2010 to allow Instant Racing, and at the same time asked a court to review whether the change was legal.[25] The court approved the changes and anti-gambling activists appealed the decision.[26][27] Kentucky Downs installed Instant Racing terminals in September 2011, Ellis Park followed suit a year later,[28] and Keeneland and the Red Mile gained approval for the machines in 2014.[29] The anti-gambling activists' appeal reached the Kentucky Supreme Court, which ruled in February 2014 that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has the authority to allow Instant Racing and that the Instant Racing was legal pari-mutuel wagering in theory.[30][31] The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Franklin County Court to determine whether particular machines and game types are legal under Kentucky law.[30]

The Idaho Legislature legalized Instant Racing in 2013. The machines were installed at Les Bois Park in Boise and Greyhound Park in Post Falls as well as the Double Down Bar & Grill in Idaho Falls. However, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe introduced a bill that was passed by more than a 2/3 majority in both houses which would repeal the law by July 1, 2015 - ending the practice in the state. [32]

The Texas Racing Commission adopted rules in August 2014 to allow historical wagering at the state's horse and dog tracks.[33] However, on November 10, 2014, a Texas district judge ruled that historical wagering was illegal because it did not have approval of the State Legislature.[34]


  1. ^ "Oaklawn Park starts expansion". Associated Press Newswires. April 17, 2008. 
  2. ^ Robyn L. Minor (March 16, 2012). "Kentucky Downs kicks off instant racing". The Daily News. Retrieved 2014-06-14. 
  3. ^ Gregory A. Hall (February 20, 2014). "Instant Racing opponents can continue fight, but ruling removes some arguments". The Courier Journal. Retrieved 2014-06-14. 
  4. ^ Greg Garland (April 26, 2004). "Video gambling offers a different spin for racetracks". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2014-06-14. 
  5. ^ a b c Tom Bojarski (July 7, 2011). "Gone in an instant". Hoof Beats. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  6. ^ a b "Kentucky Horse Racing Commission v. The Family Foundation of Kentucky, No. 10-CI-01154 (Franklin Cir. Ct., Div. II, Dec. 29, 2010)". p. 9. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  7. ^ a b Chuck Stinnett (February 26, 2014). "Ellis might ship off some of its Instant Racing machines". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved 2014-06-18.  (subscription required)
  8. ^ a b c d Janet Patton (September 1, 2011). "On eve of instant racing's debut, Ky. Downs hopes for big payoff". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  9. ^ a b OAG 10-001: Instant Racing (Report). Kentucky Office of the Attorney General. January 5, 2010. pp. 2–4. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  10. ^ Harry King (January 15, 2000). "Plan took shape in room on island". Associated Press Newswires.   – via Factiva (subscription required)
  11. ^ "Act 10 of 1999". Arkansas General Assembly. February 2, 1999. Retrieved 2013-10-13. 
  12. ^ Harry King (January 14, 2000). "Track unveils new machines". Associated Press Newswires.   – via Factiva (subscription required)
  13. ^ Harry King (March 28, 2000). "New version of machines is on the way". Associated Press Newswires.   – via Factiva (subscription required)
  14. ^ "Instant racing to start at area racetracks". Associated Press Newswires. April 24, 2003.   – via Factiva (subscription required)
  15. ^ a b Jeff Mapes (November 25, 2003). "Owner of Portland, Ore., racetracks scratches race-based video games". The Oregonian.   – via Factiva (subscription required)
  16. ^ "Minutes, September 21, 2006". Oregon Racing Commission. p. 21. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  17. ^ "Magna considering future of live racing at Portland Meadows". Portland Business Journal. August 10, 2007. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  18. ^ Janie Har (October 6, 2007). "Has horse racing run its course?". The Oregonian.   – via NewsBank (subscription required)
  19. ^ Adam Worcester (July 12, 2013). "Struggling Portland Meadows battles to overcome the odds". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved 2013-09-23. 
  20. ^ Jennifer Frazer (October 25, 2005). "Poised for a comeback". Wyoming Tribune-Eagle.   – via NewsBank (subscription required)
  21. ^ "Minutes of the July 11, 2003 meeting". Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission. p. 2. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  22. ^ "Businesses pull race machines". Billings Gazette. July 15, 2005. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  23. ^ Ben Neary (May 3, 2006). "Wyoming Supreme Court rules against 'instant racing' machines". Billings Gazette. AP. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  24. ^ Steve Luhm (March 9, 2013). "New law jump-starts horce racing at Wyoming Downs". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  25. ^ Will Graves (July 20, 2010). "Ky. begins move toward betting on re-shown races". USA Today. AP. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  26. ^ "Judge OKs plan to bet on re-shown races in Kentucky". Evansville Courier & Press. AP. December 29, 2010. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  27. ^ Robyn L. Minor (September 2, 2011). "Kentucky Downs kicks off instant racing". Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  28. ^ Chuck Stinnett (August 31, 2012). "Geary's dream of Instant Racing machines coming to life today at Ellis Park". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  29. ^ Matt Hegarty (April 2, 2014). "Kentucky commission approves Keeneland, Red Mile applications for Instant Racing machines". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  30. ^ a b Gregory A. Hall (2 April 2014). "Tracks’ instant racing plans OK’d by panel". The Courier Journal. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  31. ^ Frank Angst (February 20, 2014). "Split decision in Instant Racing ruling". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  32. ^ Veto-proof repeal of Idaho instant racing awaits Governor’s signature Mar. 30 2015 World Casino Directory News
  33. ^ Anna M. Tinsley (August 29, 2014). "State officials approve historical racing in Texas". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved 2014-11-05. 
  34. ^

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