Don't Be Fooled by Small Group Trying to Undermine Legislative Efforts

(Austin, Texas - October 1, 2010) - Texas Legislature meets every other year, and it will convene next in January of 2011. At that time, the Texas racing industry will be pursuing a legislative agenda to have video lottery terminals (VLTs) legalized for placement at the Texas racetracks. The racetracks, breed registries, and horsemen’s organization have agreed to pursue this particular agenda in hopes of financial relief for struggling Texas horsemen and racetracks in light of indications received from state's leadership that they will not support any gambling legislation that expands the footprint of gambling in Texas beyond the currently licensed racetracks (i.e. freestanding casinos, off-track (OTB) facilities, advanced deposit wagering (ADW), Instant Racing machines (IRM), etc.).

The Texas Horsemen’s Partnership (THP) is the one and only organization or group recognized by the Texas Racing Commission (TxRC) and State of Texas as the official representative of owners and trainers of horses racing in Texas. The THP is the official representative of all active licensed owners and trainers of racehorses in Texas, with active being defined as owning or training at least one horse that has started at a Texas racetrack in the past twelve (12) months.
Over the past several months, a small group of horsemen have emerged that oppose the Texas racing industry’s agreed upon legislative agenda, and the small but vocal group is actively campaigning to prevent the legalization of VLTs at Texas racetracks.

Members of this group of horsemen, passing themselves off to legislators and people related to the racing industry as official representatives of Texas horsemen, have testified at state meetings and hearings in vocal opposition of the Texas racing industry’s legislative agenda. They have also contacted many Texas Senators and Representatives asking them not to support the industry’s effort to have VLTs at Texas racetracks legalized.

Do not be misled. The THP is the only group with the legal and legislative right and mandate to represent your interests as a horseman or horsewoman racing horses in Texas. And as your representative organization, we welcome your input and suggestions on all issues impacting owners and trainers racing here, including legislative issues.

You, of course, have every right to represent yourself and your personal views anywhere you choose. Individuals do not have the right, however, to indicate to other parties that you represent the views of the majority of horsemen racing in Texas.

This group of horsemen working against the industry’s efforts to get VLTs legalized now say that they are not against slots at racetracks (VLTs are essentially a very specific type of slots), they are just opposed to a strategy that only seeks slots and not any other kinds of additional gaming such as ADWs, OTBs, IRMs, etc. However, their campaign against VLT-only legislation, if successful, would prevent the Texas horse racing industry from getting any kind of legislative relief until 2013, at the earliest.

While the THP’s staff and Boards of Directors agree that additional forms of gaming such as ADWs, OTBs, and IRMs could be a great help to the economic fortunes of horse racing in Texas, we have to remain conscious of the fact that the state leadership has made it clear that they will oppose legislation to legalize any such option that they believe “expands the footprint of gaming in Texas” beyond the grounds of the currently licensed racetracks in Texas. That is not to say the state’s racing industry will not pursue legislation legalizing other forms of gaming at a later date, but the belief right now is that VLTs is the only option that has a chance of passage in 2011, and having VLTs for the short-term is better than having no economic relief at all before 2013.

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