Historical Horse Racing Machines Ruled Unconstitutional In Louisiana

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Louisiana sports betting

A Louisiana judge last week ruled historical horse racing (HHR) was unconstitutional and ordered four operators to turn off the machines immediately.

In the court’s opinion, historical horse racing is a new form of gambling not covered under the state constitution. Therefore, each parish, or county, must approve HHR by a majority vote to use the machines legally.

Local voters did not go through the parish approval process with historical horse racing, as they did with Louisiana sports betting.

Vote required like Louisiana sports betting?

Historical horse racing allows players to bet on replays of past races through a slot-like machine.

The plaintiffs in this case, six registered Louisiana voters, argued that if HHR was authorized under a 1996 amendment, the legislature should not have been required to pass a separate bill in 2021 specific to HHR wagering.

Judge Richard Moore in East Baton Rouge Parish agreed and ruled that piece of legislation unconstitutional.

Legal Louisiana gambling includes sports betting

Before 1996, Louisianans had the state lottery, riverboat gaming, one commercial casino and horse betting.

Sports betting is a recent addition to Louisiana. In November 2022, 55 of the state’s 64 parishes voted to approve the operation of Louisiana sports betting apps.

There are several in-person Louisiana sports betting options as well.

‘Not buying’ defendants argument

The defendants included:

They argued historical horse racing falls under parimutuel wagering, which was legal before 1996. The plaintiffs’ attorney, Thomas Benjamin, told LSR, “We knew that would be their argument, and we’re not buying it.”

Machines still in use

The historical horse racing machine operators can appeal the decision. Benjamin told LSR that no appeal had been filed yet, though. The defendants have several weeks to do so.

Benjamin said Boyd Racing did turn off its machines. However, the operator declined to comment when reached by phone on Thursday.

According to staff members at multiple HHR locations operated by CDI, the machines were still in use on Thursday. CDI did not respond to a request for comment. Louisiana Downs did not respond either.