Austin-American Statesman – Racetrack owners in Texas are looking to inject new life into their struggling industry by turning to a controversial way of gambling that trades live horses for a slot machine-like experience.
Texans in the horse and dog racing industry — the same folks who have failed time after time to attain permission to run slot machines at their properties — now are trying to stretch the definition of pari-mutuel betting as they push for a flashy and innovative form of betting called “historical racing” that they hope complies with the strict regulations outlined in the Texas Racing Act.
The racing folks noticed that nowhere does the state law say that races must be live. So, they are trying to persuade state regulators to grant them the ability to operate historical racing terminals, which electronically display information about already-run races that have been stripped of all identifying markers.
The racetrack owners also are anticipating that they can make the change without having to ask lawmakers for their blessing.
Historical racing terminals look and feel like slot machines — which are illegal in Texas outside of a South Texas Indian reservation — with all the lights, buttons and sounds. But despite their trappings, track owners and horse people say the machines simply offer another way to engage in already-legal horse race wagering. Detractors, however, say the historical racing games are nothing but horse-themed slot machines and should be deemed illegal in Texas.