02/25/2016 4:51PM

Texas Racing Commission now fully funded


The Texas Racing Commission received notice from the state's legislative budget board on Thursday that its operations are now fully funded. The agency has been operating on a temporary plan covering its administrative costs.

The temporary funding was to end Monday, a situation that threatened to shut down racing in the state March 1. However, a shutdown was averted with the release of the administrative funding Thursday. The full funding is in effect until the current appropriations period ends Aug. 31, 2017, which is standard operating procedure for all state agencies in Texas.

“The legislative budget board approval of our funding ensures that racing can continue in Texas for at least the next year and a half,” said Robert Elrod, a spokesman for the commission.

The release of funding comes a week after the commission voted to repeal the rules for historical racing it put in place in August 2014. The historical racing rules have been a source of controversy since charitable bingo and tribal interests legally challenged them and a judge ruled that the commission did not have the jurisdiction to pass rules governing the electronic parimutuel game, which plays like a slot machine.

Some of the state’s tracks and horsemen’s organizations appealed the decision in court, while some state leaders expressed satisfaction with the repeal vote that came down Feb. 18.  

Many industry members feel that historical racing will provide the purse funding Texas tracks need to compete with surrounding states that have casinos supplementing purses. The tracks in Texas have lost ground to those states and find themselves further crippled by the fact that there is no gaming, offtrack betting or account wagering allowed in Texas. Historical racing machines have never been operational at tracks in Texas.