11/11/2014 4:33PM

Texas judge rules against instant racing terminals

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A district court in Austin, Texas, has ruled that the Texas Racing Commission does not have the authority to allow slots-like betting terminals at the state’s tracks, according to published reports and to lobbyist Steve Bresnen, who works with charitable bingo interests opposed to the betting terminals. The decision was handed down Monday afternoon.

The Texas Racing Commission in August adopted an amendment that provides for the installation of the terminals at the state’s horse and greyhound tracks. Known as instant racing or historical racing, the betting terminals pay off based on the results of horse races that have already been run, and play like a slot machine.

“Yesterday, Judge Lora Livingston issued a ruling on a motion for summary judgment that we filed, and she ruled that the Texas Racing Commission did not have statutory authority to adopt the historical racing rule that it has adopted,” Bresnen said Tuesday.

The commission offices were not open Tuesday in observance of Veterans Day, but Robert Elrod, a spokesperson for the agency, responded to an email request for comment from Daily Racing Form .

“The commission respects the judge’s ruling and is currently considering its options for a possible appeal,” Elrod wrote Tuesday. “Any appeal would also require the agreement of the Solicitor General’s Office, a division within the Attorney General’s Office.”

Elrod said an appeal would be due before the next scheduled commission meeting on Dec. 16.

Bresnen said historical racing machines at tracks near the larger charitable bingo locations would be devastating to them.

Texas racing has seen its handle and purse distribution drop significantly the last decade while surrounding states have flourished with gaming. There is no gaming, account wagering or off-track betting allowed in Texas. A movement for historical racing was begun by industry leaders last December.