By Raymond Whelan
Texas Sen. Ken Armbrister recently filed a bill to legalize video lottery terminals at the 10 licensed horse and dog racetracks in the state. The legislation apparently cames in response to pleas for alternative gaming at tracks from the Texas Horsemen's Partnership, the Texas Racing Agri-Industry Council, and the Texas Thoroughbred Association.
Many key Texas horse racing officials estimate VLTs would yield several hundred million dollars each year and help the state raise revenue without raising taxes. They also would boost purses at Texas racetracks to the same level as tracks in Kentucky and Florida. Supports also claim the machines would reduce untaxed, illegal gaming, create new jobs, and keep more money in Texas.
The bill provides for VLTs to roll under the supervision of the Texas Lottery Commission and the Texas Racing Commission. The bill would become law Sept. 1 if approved during the current legislative session.
"We are extremely excited about the prospects for the Texas Racing Industry and greatly appreciate Sen. Armbrister for his efforts to carry this important legislation," said John Roark, chairman of the Texas Horsemen's Partnership.
According to a recent study, pari-mutuel racing in Texas produces $6 billion in spending each year, supports 52,000 permanent jobs, and provides $1.1 billion in personal income.