Bingo Charities Haul Texas Into Court

     AUSTIN (CN) – Two dozen charitable groups that raise money with bingo sued the Texas Racing Commission, claiming its approval of “historical racing” terminals violates the state’s ban on slot machines.
     Lead plaintiff American Legion Department of Texas, Temple Post 133 claims the commission overstepped its authority when it voted to legalize the technology last month.
     Historical racing betting takes place on video terminals similar to slot machines, which are illegal in Texas outside of personal use. The terminals remove identifying information on past races and allow users to make bets on them.
     The plaintiffs say historical racing terminals are really “slot machines with a tortured wagering system” that have not been approved by the traditionally gambling-hostile Texas Legislature, and are not subject to taxes.
     They claim that the commission’s approval is “the greatest expansion of gambling in Texas’ history.”
     The plaintiffs are licensed by the Texas Lottery Commission to conduct bingo games. They cite research that stated when Louisiana and Washington introduced video gaming devices, bingo revenue dropped by as much as 75 percent in those states.
     “Introduction of video gambling devices will inevitably harm bingo halls, and halls within reasonable proximity to racetracks will, in all probability, have to close,” according to the 54-page complaint in Travis County Court.
     The plaintiffs claim that historical racing is expressly banned by the Texas Racing Act, which states that wagering is limited to live or simulcast racing while inside a racetrack facility.
     “The express limitation to ‘only’ live and simulcast racing, by itself, is sufficient to void the commission’s proposed new wagering method,” the complaint states. “‘Live’ racing and ‘simulcast’ racing are not ambiguous terms.”
     The commission also failed to give notice, reasoned justification and legislative review for the rules under the Texas Administrative Procedure Act, the plaintiffs say.
     A commission spokesman said it does not comment on pending litigation.
     The plaintiffs seek injunctive relief and a declaration that the historical racing rules violate the Texas Racing Act, the Texas Administrative Procedure Act and the Texas Constitution.
     They are represented by Stephen Fenoglio and Anatole Barnstone, both of Austin.

%d bloggers like this: