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Commissioners OK Betting on Historical Horse Races

UPDATED: The Texas Racing Commission is moving forward with a plan to install machines that simulate historical horseraces at racetracks despite opposition from a Fort Worth lawmaker.

State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, explains HB627 to the Select Committee on Federalism & Fiscal Responsibility on March 13, 2013.

Updated Aug. 29, 2:15 p.m.:

The Texas Racing Commission is moving forward with a plan to install historical racing machines at racetracks in the state despite opposition from a Fort Worth lawmaker.

Commissioners approved the plan Friday in a 7-1 vote. A Tarrant County judge chose not to issue a temporary restraining order that would have delayed the move, but a Sept. 10 hearing is set to consider a temporary injunction to keep the change from going into effect.

Original story: 

Criticizing a proposed form of betting on horse races as “nothing more than slot machines,” state Rep. Matt Krause announced Thursday that he had filed a lawsuit to prevent the implementation of historical racing machines in Texas.

In addition to filing the lawsuit against the members of the Texas Racing Commission, Krause, R-Fort Worth, also applied for a temporary restraining order to prevent the commissioners from instituting rules allowing the machines.

Historical racing would allow people at horse racing tracks to use terminals to bet on digital simulations of historical races. The races have been modified to erase most identifying information.

“We believe that previous legal rulings and the constitutional power of the Texas Legislature leave no doubt that the Racing Commission has no standing to legalize historical racing machines on their own,” Krause said in a statement.

Krause’s campaign spokesman, Luke Macias, said Krause filed the suit “in his capacity as an elected official but from him individually.” Macias said the move came because Krause believes the commission could take action as early as Friday on making the machines available.

“He’s not the first official to make it very clear to the commission that trying to pass something into law, which the Legislature has made clear they don’t want to legalize, is an abuse of power,” Macias said. “We have a legislative process for a reason.”

Robert Elrod, a spokesman for the commission, said that the commission was unaware of the lawsuit but that the issue of historical racing machines was still slated to be on the agenda for its meeting Friday.

In June, the commission announced it would pursue the technology, allowing for proposed rules to be posted for a period of public review. Some commissioners said at the meeting that historical racing would be needed to help prop up the racing industry.

In July, five Republican nominees for the Texas Senate signed a letter opposing the proposed rules for historical racing.

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