State Judge Decides Not to Stop "Historical Racing"

A state judge on Thursday decided not to bar the Texas Racing Commission from installing historical racing machines — but the commission’s legal fight is not over.

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

A Tarrant County judge on Thursday declined to stop the Texas Racing Commission from installing historical racing machines — but the commission’s legal fight is not over.

Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, sued in August to prevent the commission from installing machines that would allow people to bet on digital simulations of historical races. On Thursday, State District Judge David Evans decided not issue the injunction Krause requested. In his letter opinion, the judge said Krause did not have standing to bring the suit as a legislator. Even so, the judge's opinion cast doubt on the legality of the machines.

"Although not necessary for my conclusion, I would also point out that the Legislature’s definition of pari-mutuel wagering is limited to wagers on an animal or animals. An animal is ‘a living thing that is not a human being,’” Evans wrote. “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.” 

Krause's lawsuit put him on the side of several other Republicans who have spoken out against the machines. In August, the judge chose to not issue a temporary restraining order, but he held a hearing over two days earlier this month to consider a temporary injunction. On Thursday, he decided not to issue one.

The historical racing machines are also being challenged in Travis County. A coalition of groups that receive charitable donations from bingo proceeds was in court on Tuesday, arguing the machines would turn race tracks into casinos and cut into their proceeds. 

“The phrase ‘historical racing’ is a euphemism for slot machines,” the group’s lawsuit says. “Despite the enlightened-sounding name, a ‘historical’ race slot machine has no education or nostalgic value.”

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