Texas Horse Racing May End in the Near Future

Posted: August 24, 2015

Updated: October 6, 2017

Texas horse racing may take a serious hit due to lack of funding

Texas horse racing is in trouble. The industry in the Lone Star State has seriously declined since its prosperity some decades ago. Venues used to be crowded and its popularity made it a desirable site for betting horses. The competition soon increased as tracks in other states offered higher purses. Many of the finest horsemen in the state, left for a more a lucrative future as Texas became yesterday’s gambling news.

● Texas horse racing may retire as soon as August 31st
● Texas is unable to compete with gambling venues in Louisiana and Texas
● The heart of the dispute could be the use of replaying races

Also, the opening of casinos in more states hasn’t helped the industry. As other states opened casinos, more slot machines were added to their horse tracks. These provided patrons with more than just the horses to entertain them. Last year horse racing earned a mere USD 130 million in comparison to the USD 360 million it earned 10 years ago. Finally, Texas may see an end to Horse racing altogether.

Texas horse racing’s future is uncertain

The Texas Racing Commission has definitely seen better days as officials wait to find out their fate. The uncertainty that state funding will cease affects all the racetracks in Texas as well. The funding is imperative to the agency in order for them to pay overhead costs such as rent and employees. Texas horse racing may retire as soon as August 31st. Chuck Trout, commission executive director wrote to a pro-track legislator “if the industry closes, all racing will stop.”

Texas horse racing Grand Prairie

Aaaand… they’re off! For good?

The Racing Commission and anti-racing legislators have been quarreling all year. Some lawmakers are against the use of historical racing machines at racetracks that reply past historic races such as the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby. Funding was threatened ever since the commission approved the use of these machines in their race tracks. Now everything is threatened.

John Elliot, CEO of Global Gaming Solutions, spoke out about the situation. “If the TRC shuts down, it’s a concern for the whole industry. It obviously would have a devastating impact. We can only hope that it’s not going to happen.” Global Gaming Solutions, under the stewardship of the Chickasaw Nation, also own Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie. If horse racing ends, Texans may only have mobile casino gambling to entertain them.

The commission was told by lawmakers that they would continue to get funding. In addition lawmakers said that funding for central administrative positions must be approved by the State Legislative Budget Board. After that, the commissioners announced they would try to repeal the “historical racing rules.” The commission will meet to discuss the proposal on Aug 25 which almost coincides with lawmakers’ decision whether to cut race funding.

Texas horse racing’s end could be due to the commission’s regulation

It is unknown how the state budget boards will determine if the funding will continue. R.J. DeSilva, budget board spokesman, said that “the Racing Commission will get information on how to proceed” after the next fiscal year begins. Unfortunately the Racing Commission has yet to receive the information. Trout said “until we hear from the LBB, we must prepare for the unlikely event that the approval will not be given and the Commission will be unable to regulate racing.”

Texas Horse Racing instant machines

Historical or instant racing machines offer all the excitement with much lower costs

Historical racing or instant racing is a much heated topic in Texas. Though they are similar to slot machines in their lights, sounds and automatism, instant racing is based on the performance of past races or “replaying races.” Each “instant race” is devoid of dates, tracks or horse names in order to avoid any advantage prior to playing. Several politicians, such as Representative Matt Krause of Fort Worth, wanted judges to halt the commission’s vote on historical racing.

The Commission’s approval of historic horse racing in their dog and horse racing casinos may have put race funding in jeopardy. Those who are for historic racing claim that the game machines are needed in order for Texas to properly compete with larger casinos neighboring states that offer more. Texas is unable to produce revenue that rivals Chinese casinos, so they should be able to do whatever is possible.

There have been several legislative attempts to discontinue instant racing. In one such attempt, Representative Krause tried to file a suit claiming that the commission didn’t have the authority to permit instant racing. That case was dismissed. Another lawsuit was filed by a coalition of charitable bingo groups that claimed the machines would severely impair their business. Although the commission has vowed to not change the ruling, a coalition of racetracks claimed they would.

What may hurt the racing industry more is the system that is in place to pay the commission through the racing revenue. The attempts in the past to better regulate the funding, which is allocated from all the racing revenue, have always been thwarted by the commission. The casino and horse racing industry in Oklahoma and Louisiana may not have to do anything to eliminate their competition. The commission may not last due to their own avoidance of US gambling laws.

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