Racing Legislation Vetoed in Texas

Texas Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill that would have, among other things, increased the amount racetracks receive from the simulcasting of Greyhound races. The veto is expected to have some impact on horsemen.

"Revenue from cross-species simulcasting could have meant the addition of up to $500,000 for the state's purse fund, but it's not going to kill us," said Dave Hooper, executive director of the Texas Thoroughbred Association. "There were several things included in the bill that would have benefited the horsemen of this state greatly, but I don't think the industry as a whole took a major hit."

The legislation would have given the Texas Racing Commission control over all pari-mutuel events at racetracks, including the addition of the controversial "eight-liner" video gambling machines, or casino-style slot machines, which offer players eight ways to win.

Eight-liners have been at the center of a legal controversy since a law passed in 1995 that allows the machines to remain in Texas. However, players can be awarded only non-cash prizes such as toys and novelties valued at no more than $5 or 10 times the cost of play, whichever is less.

If the commission had governance over the machines, it could have allowed the tracks to install eight-liners that could have rewarded players with mutuel vouchers.

The bill passed through the Texas legislature, and was backed by all horsemen's groups in Texas. But Perry vetoed the bill because he believes the commission should not be regulating gambling machines.