Operators of the state's pari-mutuel horse tracks, stretched by the dwindling popularity of horse racing and the fact that horse tracks in neighboring states, like Oklahoma and Arkansas, are allowed to offer casino-style gambling at their tracks, are fighting back with a form of off track betting which some say is a slot machine in disguise, 1200 WOAI news repots.
Robert Elrod of the Texas Racing Commission tells 1200 WOAI news that the tracks have installed when they call 'historical betting' machines.
Essentially, it allows people to bet on videos of horse races which have already happened.
Elrod says customers sit down at the video terminal and they are shown a horse race which was run some time in the past, with more than 2,000 races to choose from, and the fact that the bettor is not told which race it is or the names of the horses involved, they can't 'Google' the results.
"It just gives you very basic information," he said. "There is no way to identify where the race was or what the horse is."
He says the bettor then bets on a certain horse to win the race.
"You will just have the odds and the jockey's record and that information, so you can handicap the race," Elrod said.
Since the patron is betting on horse racing, the pari-mutuel tracks say it is simply an extension of off track betting, which has already been legalized by the Legislature. But opponents of expanded gambling say what the machines are is slot machines and nothing more, and they are illegal under current Texas law.
Elrod says with pari-mutuel dying across the state, what the machines are to many race track operators is the salvation of their industry.
"There are people who say this will save horse racing in Texas."