Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

by Ray Paulick|01.26.2023|12:40pm

Saturday’s Houston Racing Competition program at Sam Houston Race Park in Texas could have 10 races, together with 5 stakes, led by the Grade 3 duo of the John B. Connally Turf Cup and the Houston Women Traditional Stakes. Purses will whole practically $1 million.

Whole wagering will likely be nowhere close to that quantity, because of the actions of the Texas Racing Fee, which shut down Thoroughbred racing’s export simulcast alerts from state tracks over a standoff with the Horseracing Integrity and Security Authority.

With no simulcast wagering on its races, Sam Houston has needed to depend on meager on-track betting and wagering at a handful of tracks across the state.

Final Sunday, whole wagering on eight races was $116,342. Purses totaled $150,000, with a lot of that coming courtesy of 2019 laws that earmarked a portion of gross sales taxes from horse merchandise offered all through the state to go towards purses. An estimated $25 million – to be divided equally between Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing – is raised yearly for purse cash by way of the gross sales tax.

With no simulcasting to different U.S. states, wagering on Sam Houston’s product is down greater than 90 % this meet, in keeping with stories. It is a huge understatement to say that this isn’t a sustainable mannequin.

Worse but, Texas horse racing pursuits might get stampeded by the military of playing lobbyists who’ve descended upon the capitol in Austin for the 2023 legislative session.

In response to revealed stories, there are greater than 300 registered lobbyists representing playing pursuits, with 72 reportedly employed by Las Vegas Sands on line casino firm alone. Playing firms aren’t simply spending cash on lobbyists. They’re donating tens of millions to the marketing campaign coffers of state politicians in hopes of getting their assist for playing laws – each casinos and on-line sports activities wagering –  that, if handed, would then go on the November poll as a constitutional modification for Texans to determine upon. That is the identical path horse racing took 35 years in the past when voters permitted a 1987 poll initiative to permit pari-mutuel wagering.

Texas doesn’t have off-track betting and there are solely a handful of tracks on this huge state that supply wagering on horse racing. It doesn’t allow advance-deposit wagering – at the least the authorized selection. The Texas Racing Fee additionally shot down historic horse racing machines as a way to supply further income for tracks and purses.

Rick Perry, who served as Texas governor for 15 years, is the spokesperson for the Sports activities Betting Alliance that’s searching for on-line sports activities wagering. Perry has been pushing the speculation that Texans are already playing billions of {dollars} a 12 months on sports activities, however doing so illegally by way of unregulated offshore companies or bookmakers. A lot of the state’s skilled sports activities franchises assist the laws.

There may be motion among the many state’s strongest politicians. Home Speaker Dade Phelan has expressed assist for vacation spot casinos in main cities. Phelan reportedly acquired $300,000 from the political motion committee fashioned by Sands on line casino.

That is peanuts in comparison with the donations from Sands to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and his political motion committee. Patrick reportedly has acquired $2.5 million from the Sands PAC in recent times. Patrick, because the presiding officer of the Texas Senate, can management what laws will get to the ground for a vote. He has not come out in assist of both sports activities wagering or on line casino laws – but.

Regardless of the wallpapering of cash within the capitol, there is a lengthy highway forward for Texas playing proponents. Simply as in 1987 with the pari-mutuel referendum, the Senate and Home must go any measure by a two-thirds supermajority vote. After which voters could have the ultimate say.

The place does this depart horse racing?

It might be left within the mud, as there will likely be much more competitors for the playing greenback, for positive, if each sports activities betting and vacation spot casinos are legalized. Nonetheless, it’s potential throughout negotiations over legislative language that racetracks will likely be thrown a bone and allowed to have a restricted variety of slot machines. And it appears unfathomable that on-line sports activities wagering could be permitted with out additionally legalizing advance deposit wagering on horse racing. So there are some potential advantages going ahead if Texas embraces expanded playing.

That is my view from the eighth pole.

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