Update from the Texas Thoroughbred Association:
Texas horsemen are pleased and grateful that the Texas Racing Commission today took a step towards saving the Texas horse industry. With a vote of 7 in favor, 1 against and 1 abstention, the Texas Racing Commission approved rules authorizing pari-mutuel wagering on historical races.
Commission staff reported that over 13,000 comments on the subject had been received during the public comment period, with about three-quarters in support of the measure.
Chairman Robert Schmidt allowed a limited amount of testimony at the meeting, including testimony from a representative of Gaming Laboratories International, a regulatory certification firm that conducted scientific studies on historical racing terminals, determining that historical racing terminals are indeed pari-mutuel in nature and do not comply with scientific standards for slot machines. The terminals operate through a totalisator system with pari-mutuel pools that are seeded only on the first day of operation, and are basically the same as any self-service racetrack wagering terminal. The terminals do not produce outcomes, as do slot machines, but simply display the outcome of a race. Whereas the outcome of a slot machine is based entirely on chance, the outcome of a historical racing terminal is based upon actual race results and the patron’s skill in selecting the winner of the race.
Those speaking in opposition to adoption of the rules included representatives of the Christian Life Commission, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe and charitable bingo operations.
Horsemen including TTA President Ken Carson, Fasig-Tipton Texas Director of Sales Tim Boyce, Robert Francis, and Bryan Neff DVM spoke in support of the measure.
In spite of pressure from competing interests both inside Texas as well as out-of-state, the Racing Commission firmly embraced the technological advances that have evolved since the original Texas Racing Act was enacted in 1986. Pari-mutuel wagering on Historical Races will help to make Texas more competitive with our casino-laden neighboring states by increasing purses, which will in turn encourage breeding and sales activity. The State of Texas stands to benefit overall from the resulting positive agricultural impact and opportunity for additional jobs.
Just yesterday, State Representative Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) filed a lawsuit against the Commissioners along with petition for a temporary restraining order to prevent the commission from voting on the matter today. This morning a Tarrant County judge decided not to issue the temporary restraining order.
But 48th District Court Judge David Evans set a September 10th hearing to consider whether to approve a temporary injunction to prevent the rule change from going into effect.
Please take the time to express your thanks to the Texas Racing Commission. Today’s victory is just the first step of many we must take in order to restore our industry to health. Let’s all work together to make it happen.