'Long-Term, This Is Not Sustainable': Sam Houston Handle Down 91 Percent Without National Simulcasting - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘Long-Term, This Is Not Sustainable’: Sam Houston Handle Down 91 Percent Without National Simulcasting

Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, Texas

The Texas Racing Commission has not allowed Thoroughbred tracks in the state to export their simulcast signal out of state since July 1, 2022, the implementation date of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority's racetrack safety program. In Texas, where advance deposit wagering is illegal and all legal bets must be made at a racetrack in-state, industry studies have shown that upwards of 90 percent of handle comes via simulcasting.

Through the first two weeks of the 2023 meet at Sam Houston Race Park, wagering is down a total of 91 percent. The Daily Racing Form reports that $11.75 million was wagered on six days of live racing over the same period in 2022, versus $1.04 million on seven days of live racing this year.

To mitigate the loss in handle, Sam Houston has planned to run 43 race dates this year, compared to 50 in 2022. In addition, a portion of purses at Texas tracks comes from sales taxes on equine-related expenditures.

“It's not as dramatic as it might be in other states,” Amy Cook, executive director of the TRC, told DRF. “Eighty-five percent of the purse account is untouched.”

The TRC's simulcasting decision was made, Cook explained, because the Texas Racing Act does not allow federal regulation of racing operations.

Sam Houston's parent company, Penn Entertainment, is not planning to cut purses or additional race days for 2023. Nonetheless, vice president of racing Chris McErlean said the HISA dispute is an ongoing concern.

“We're hoping it gets resolved one way or another, in a way that is satisfactory to everyone,” McErlean told DRF. “Long-term, this is not sustainable.”

Read more at the Daily Racing Form.

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