Lawmaker Loses Bid to Block Betting Terminals

     FORT WORTH (CN) – A Texas legislator has no standing to sue to stop the introduction of “historical racing” betting terminals at horse racetracks in the state, a state judge ruled.
     Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, sued members of the Texas Racing Commission in August seeking an injunction to stop their approval of new rules allowing the betting machines that use previously run and randomly chosen races to decide outcomes.
     Krause argued the machines are too similar to slot machines and that as a gambling issue, it should be considered by the state legislature instead of the commission.
     Several Texas racetracks have since intervened in the suit, including Sam Houston Race Park in Houston. The racetracks urged the commission to approve historical racing to help them compete with larger out-of-state racetracks.
     Tarrant County District Judge David L. Evans dismissed Krause’s suit on September 19. In a letter to the parties and intervening racetracks, Evans said he was tossing the case in spite of agreeing with Krause that the commission lacked the authority to pass the new rules.
     “Counsel for Representative Krause made able and compelling arguments concerning the Representative’s standing to bring these claims,” the letter stated. “However, I do not believe that Texas law currently grants him or other legislators standing; therefore, a dismissal of the case is required”
     Nonetheless, Evans disagreed with the commission’s argument that the Texas Racing Act does not limit pari-mutuel wagering to only live or simulcast racing.
     “It is true that the definition does not contain the words ‘live’ or ‘simulcast.’ This is not dispositive,” Evans wrote. “The rules of construction require consideration of the entire act.
     When the entire act is considered, it is clear that pari-mutuel wagering is limited to live or simulcast racing. The approach of the Commission would require the Legislature and its Legislative Council to draft bills with repetitive and redundant language.
     Evans pointed out the legislators’ definition of pari-mutuel betting is limited to bets on animals, which are “living things” that are not human.
     “It seems to me that this language is consistent with live or simulcast racing and inconsistent with videos of animals in past races and who may not even be alive today,” Evans wrote.
     Several Texas charitable groups filed a second lawsuit last week against the commission in Austin federal court, arguing the slot-machine-like historical racing terminals would force bingo halls near racetracks to close.
     The charities also argued historical racing is expressly banned by the Texas Racing Act, that wagering is limited to live or simulcast racing while inside a racetrack facility.
     The commission’s rule change is set to take effect on September 28.
     Commission spokesman Robert Elrod declined to comment Thursday due to the pending federal lawsuit.
     Krause could not be reached for comment Saturday. He told the Fort Worth Star Telegram that he was disappointed in Evans’ ruling and is considering an appeal.
     “I would have loved to have gotten the injunction and stopped this here,” he said Friday. “But the judge seems to agree with us that the commission operated outside their authority. I feel a bit vindicated that the judge agreed with us on the law.”

%d bloggers like this: