04/10/2012 :  BETTING ON THE PAST
 
A new way to gamble is emerging in some US states
 
Economically beleaguered racetracks in several US states have introduced an innovative way to generate wagering action, and a significant number of punters are going for it, reports the Journal Star newspaper.
 
Dubbed ‘historical' or instant horseracing, the concept is to offer punters wagers on randomly selected televised races from the past, along with sufficiently edited handicapping data to make it impossible to identify the particular race in advance. The bettor has the option of watching the race play out in full or in part once he or she has wagered on machines provided at racetracks for the purpose.
 
Proponents argue that the practice not only makes more money for the tracks, increasing prize purses and state tax contributions, but gives punters something to do between races.
 
It's proving to be a lucrative business, with Kentucky racecourse owners reporting $15 million in bets last month – and according to another report on Kentucky.com, the Kentucky Downs course is confident that the ‘instant' machines will bring in some $150 million this year.
 
On the downside there is some political and legal resistance developing in Kentucky from conservative anti-gambling groups, with test cases in progress that involve questions of constitutionality.
 
In Nebraska a political row is brewing over the governor's veto of a measure passed by the state Legislature that would make intrastate ‘instant' wagering on video machines at racetracks legal.
 
The governor exercised his veto on constitutional grounds that the bill would have expanded gambling beyond what is allowed by the state constitution.