Texas Commission Says HISA Has ‘No Effect’ On Its Rules; Sam Houston To Resume Simulcasting – Horse Racing News


Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, Texas

Texas Thoroughbred racetracks may resume exporting their simulcast signals this week, based on a decision by the Texas Racing Commission stating that simulcast requests “will only be considered in a manner consistent with Texas law. All horseraces in Texas will continue to be conducted in accordance with the Texas Racing Act and the Texas Rules of Racing.”

In a letter dated Feb. 1 to all occupational and business licensees of the Texas Racing Commission, commission executive director Amy Cook wrote that the federal law creating the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority “has no effect on the state of Texas.” That position was taken after an order on Jan. 31 from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that it would not vacate its November opinion finding the law “facially unconstitutional.”

HISA and the Federal Trade Commission had asked the Fifth Circuit to reconsider that November opinion in light of an amendment passed by Congress in late December intended to address the constitutional questions affirmed by the appellate court in a lawsuit filed by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and numerous affiliates. The Fifth Circuit reversed a decision by a district court that upheld the law’s constitutionality.

Last year the Texas Racing Commission said it could not comply with HISA regulations because of state law assigning regulatory authority to the agency. As a result, the commission said tracks would not be able to export their simulcast signal, since the federal law defined “covered tracks” as those which conducted interstate simulcasting.

HISA issued a statement through spokesperson Mandy Minger suggesting the late December amendment to the legislation effectively changed the law and that the current version of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act has not been struck down in court.

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision concerns only the prior version of HISA, before Congress amended it to remedy the constitutional concern the Fifth Circuit identified,” the statement read. “No court has expressed any constitutional concern about, let alone enjoined, the current version of HISA now in effect.  We look forward to working with the Texas Racing Commission and Texas racetracks should they resume operations falling within HISA’s jurisdiction.”

Resumption of simulcasting puts Texas within HISA’s jurisdiction under the federal law, but the statement did not indicate how the Authority would enforce that law.

Published reports indicated that Sam Houston would resume export of its simulcast signal on its next day of racing, Feb. 3. Without simulcasting, handle has been down approximately 90 percent since the meet opened, according to published reports.

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