Houston Matters

Replays of Old Horse Races Are No Longer Allowed — So What’s Next for Texas Racetracks?

Back in September (Sept. 11, 2015), we talked with Houston Chronicle reporter Brian Rosenthal about something called “historical racing.” It’s a practice at Texas racetracks where old horse races are replayed on a screen with no identifying traits that would allow you to recognize the race, the horse or the outcome. It allows players to […]

Back in September (Sept. 11, 2015), we talked with Houston Chronicle reporter Brian Rosenthal about something called "historical racing." It's a practice at Texas racetracks where old horse races are replayed on a screen with no identifying traits that would allow you to recognize the race, the horse or the outcome. It allows players to bet on a simulation of a real race from the past.

The experience is something like playing video poker or slots in a casino, and that's why it's been pretty contentious because, of course, gambling is illegal in the state of Texas.

So, last year, the Texas Legislature said — if the Texas Racing Commission would continue to allow historical racing — lawmakers would defund the Racing Commission. Well, not surprisingly, the commission last month voted to no longer allow historical racing. End of story, right? Well, not exactly.

Racetracks say the move will cripple them financially, and historical racing is a critical supplement to the money they take in from actual, live horse races.

Edel Howlin recently spoke with Ross Ramsey, executive editor at the Texas Tribune, who explained the unusual circumstances behind how the Racing Commission came to its decision.

MORE: Horse Racing is Back in Texas After a Brief Shutdown — But for How Long? (Houston Matters, Sept. 11, 2015)

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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