Yes, you read that right. Critics of the proposal say that it really is a thinly-disguised (and have you noted that nothing is ever “thickly disguised”) form of slot machine. The key details:
In historical gambling, which is also called instant gaming, customers would put as little as a nickel and as much as $5 into a video terminal that resembles a slot machine. The terminal randomly selects a race from an archive of at least 10,000 previous horses races from tracks around the country. Customers review a graphic showing the odds and statistics for each horse before deciding which one to bet on.
The race appears on the monitor. If the chosen horse wins, the patron will receive a payout based on the odds, how much was bet and that day’s purse.
Actually, based on this description, there’s something much more wrong with historical racing. The obvious attack on any bet on anything that has already happened (instead of has yet to happen) is simply for a gambler to find out what the result was, said result now being a sure bet. This trick is the basis for a number of common cons; I arrange to get the results early or to delay your receipt of the results, and convince you to place a too-good-to-be-true bet in the interim.
Presumably, selecting from a large database of races and showing only horse odds and stats (rather than day-and-time and horse names) is to foil this form of attack. But that level of obfuscation, while it turns the game into a game of chance against the ignorant, doesn’t seem sufficient to foil the dedicated. I just need to compile a large database of odds, statistics, and results from historical races. Then, when the machine shows me the details of the randomly-chosen race, I punch enough of them into a handheld computing device with the database loaded on it. In a 10,000-race database, it should be pretty easy to zero in on the actual race. Armed with that information, I place a can’t-lose bet.
Since I don’t usually think of casinos, racetracks, and other professional gambling institutions as being that dumb, my assumption is that there’s some further angle. That angle, if it exists, is unlikely to increase the role of skill in the game. And if said angle doesn’t exist, I predict that historical racing will have a short and ignominious life.