Texas Racing's Future Remains Uncertain; Several Stakeholders Hoping To 'Find A Way To Participate With HISA' - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Texas Racing’s Future Remains Uncertain; Several Stakeholders Hoping To ‘Find A Way To Participate With HISA’

Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, Texas

With simulcasting unavailable due to ongoing disputes with the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, Sam Houston Race Park saw total handle down nearly 93 percent this year, from over $101 million in 2022 to about $6.39 million in 2023, reports the Thoroughbred Daily News.

Purse levels have remained fairly steady, thanks to a state sales tax on equine products, but several Texas stakeholders shared their concerns with the TDN for the industry's future.

“We have some serious concerns about the direction that Texas Thoroughbred racing is headed given the resistance to participate with HISA,” Jeff Hooper, chairman and CEO of Texas' Highlander Training Center, told TDN. “We're certainly not saying HISA is 100% hitting on all cylinders. [But] we feel that it is in Texas's long-term best interests to find a way to participate with HISA.”

The Texas Racing Commission continues to insist that it cannot comply with HISA regulations because of state law assigning regulatory authority to the agency. As a result, the commission has not allowed tracks to export their simulcast signal, since the federal law defines “covered tracks” as those which conducted interstate simulcasting.

One trainer suggested Texas should have gone the way of Louisiana and West Virginia, which secured legal injunctions to allow simulcasting while still operating outside the bounds of HISA.

Sam Houston's parent company, Penn Entertainment, has not made any specific decisions for 2024, but vice president of racing Chris McErlean warned that the time for such a decision isn't far away.

“We're going to have to step back and evaluate at that point what the landscape is, and start making decisions for 2024,” McErlean told TDN. “We obviously want to get the races out to as many people as we can. Unfortunately, this is a complicated, multi-pronged issue. It's not as cut and dried as many people make it out to be.”

Read more at the Thoroughbred Daily News.

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