Sunday June 26, 2022
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After 6 years of litigation, serious doubt cast on legality of slot-like gambling devices.

The Franklin Circuit Court handed a significant victory to opponents of the Encore Gaming System, a slot-machine style system similar to Instant Racing. Late last week, the trial court denied a motion for partial summary judgment in a case in which The Family Foundation has argued that the slot-machine style system is unconstitutional and violates Kentucky law.

“The ruling shows that the Judge in this case understands the issues at stake and is willing to go where the argument leads,” said Martin Cothran, a spokesman for The Family Foundation, the group opposing the Encore gaming system. “Not only that,” he said, “but the wording of the Court’s decision could make it difficult, if not impossible, for the race tracks and the Horse Racing Commission to ultimately prevail in this case,” said Cothran.

The group said that the ruling traps the advocates of expanded gambling pushing the new form of electronic gambling into a dilemma they may not be able to escape. The Court agreed with The Family Foundation’s arguments, he said.

“We argued that the gambling pools created under this new system of gambling may never be fully paid out to winning players as required by state law, a requirement acknowledged by the Racing Commission’s own expert witness. We also argued that players might win more money than a wagering pool could pay. In this event the host tracks would add more money to the pool. When the host track adds money to a wagering pool, the host track becomes a participant in the wagering, just like in Las Vegas style slot-machines. The Judge agreed in his decision. So the slot-type games either fail to pay out pools to players or the host tracks are participating in the wagering to keep the gaming system solvent. Either way, the games appear to violate Kentucky law,” said Cothran.

“This might explain the Racing Commission’s attempts to change the underlying law by legislation in the current 2017 Session of the General Assembly. Legislative efforts to change the law concerning what is and is not pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing faced weak support in the House and strong opposition from constituent groups.” The proposed legislation died in the House from lack of support.

Bevin_HB40Today, Governor Matt Bevin, joined by Senate President Robert Stivers, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, Rep. Darryl Owens, Rep. David Floyd, Justice and Public Safety Sec. John Tilley and many other legislators and advocates, signed House Bill 40 into law, giving non-violent felony offenders who have paid their debt to society a second chance.

“It is a great day when doing the right thing transcends all political boundaries and all ideologies,” said Governor Bevin. “It’s an honor and privilege to be able to sign House Bill 40 into law. It is critical that there is an opportunity for redemption and second chances because America is a land that was founded on these principles. The greatness, uniqueness, beauty and extraordinary nature of America is based on the fact that we do give people an opportunity for redemption.”

House Bill 40 will allow Kentuckians convicted of certain Class D felonies who have paid their debt to society, stayed out of trouble as required by the law, and have shown that they are indeed trying to get back on track to erase their criminal records and get a second chance at jobs, housing and other opportunities sometimes denied felons.

“This bill is about redemption, good policy and workforce development,” said Justice and Public Safety Sec. John Tilley. “But if you’ve ever spoken with someone who’s been given a second chance and have had a piece of their dignity restored, you know immediately why this bill goes far beyond any policy measure, job or economic development success.”

“I’m grateful to see the passage of a bill that gives hope to tens of thousands of Kentuckians looking for a new start in their lives,” said Sen. Westerfield. “This is one of a handful of enormously consequential days I’ve had the privilege to experience while serving in the Senate, and I’m thankful for the many hands that worked to bring this to fruition.”

“I can’t say enough about how this is going to be a life-altering piece of legislation,” said Rep. Owens. “I think this is probably one of the most consequential pieces of legislation to come out of the legislature this year. The Governor’s endorsement was critical.”

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