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Future of Texas racing unclear

With the threat of an industry-wide shutdown looming over Texas, the future of horse racing in Texas—including the impending Lone Star Park Quarter Horse meet, which includes Paint races and was scheduled to open September 18 in Grand Prairie—was uncertain. According to a press release from Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Texas Racing Commission—slated to be deprived of funding starting August. 31 due to the debacle, which would require the commission to shut down itself and operating racetracks indefinitely—will receive funding through the first quarter of fiscal year 2016.

The Legislature has already appropriated $15.4 million to the agency but voted to make the Commission’s administrative funds totaling $1.5 million subject to LBB approval. The Senate LBB members did not approve release of the Commission’s administrative funding but agreed to let the Commission’s transfer funds already appropriated to cover the cost of administrative functions for three months.

“I fully support the proposal by senate members to allow the commission to use their existing appropriation dollars to continue covering administrative costs while racing board members adjust their focus from expansion of gaming to their statutory purpose of enforcing the Texas Racing Act and its rules to ensure the safety, integrity, and fairness of Texas pari-mutuel racing,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“We have been looking for a way to avoid a shutdown,” said Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound and chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “Last week’s actions were disappointing, and we cannot look the other way when an agency exceeds its authority, defies the Constitution and picks fights with the Legislature.”

It’s unclear whether this will enable Texas racetracks to resume operations.

For more information, read the August 31 Fort Worth Star-Telegram story “Wagering on Texas Horseracing off—for now.”

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