Don't Think the Racing Industry Affects You?
Think Again!

By Marilyn Short

Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) at horse and dog tracks in Texas? Whether you are for or against gambling, you need to consider what it would mean for the Texas horse industry, your property taxes and Texas public education if VLTs are approved.

The San Antonio Express-News reported that a top Perry aide is floating a plan to raise $4 billion for education initiatives and to lower property taxes for Texans which would include legalizing video lottery terminals at horse and dog tracks. Gov. Rick Perry might call a special April session to overhaul the way Texas funds public schools, and the Texas racing industry is pushing for that session to convene.

A grassroots effort has begun to get the public and legislators educated as to what VLTs could mean to the state of Texas. A meeting was held at Retama Park on Tuesday, February 2 for the owners, trainers, grooms…anyone having an interest in boosting the racing industry. “We’ve got a 100-day window to get the word out to as many people as we can about this issue,” said Gene Palmieri, owner of Silver Spur Ranch, a Thoroughbred facility just outside of Lytle, Texas.

“There are many Texans that are small breeders like me,” said Palmieri, “eeking out a living in the horse industry. We need to push to get VLTs at our Texas tracks.”

Delta Downs in Louisiana and Sunland Park Racetrack in New Mexico are making quite a bit of money off Texans. Delta Downs made $1.9 billion after prizes and purses and Sunland Park made $99 million after prizes and purses. 50-90% of the neighboring state’s casino patrons are Texans…meaning more than 1-billion a year is being sucked out of Texas through video gaming to other states.

Ray Perryman, an economist in Waco, Texas analyzed the impact of horse and greyhound racing on business activity in Texas. In short, VLTs in Texas would increase the state revenue to $1.464-billion per year – almost a 90% net increase.
The trickle down would apply throughout Texas. With VLTs at the tracks the purses would increase and where Texas tracks have been losing money due to owners taking their horses to New Mexico and Louisiana to run, they would stay in Texas, increasing the racing industry. As an example, the owner wins a very nice purse, he then goes out and purchases a new truck, the truck salesman gets a good commission and he buys a new boat, the boat salesman buys new living room furniture…you get the idea.

Public education in Texas is currently funded primarily through local property taxes and unless the state can increase its share of educational spending, the burden on local taxpayers will once again fall onto the property owners with increases in property taxes. The advantage of VLTs at Texas tracks would provide property tax relief to Texas homeowners.

How many of our sport horses, speed event, and endurance horses are retired racehorses or from racing bloodlines? How many of our farriers, vets, feed stores and hay suppliers would go out of business if Texas lost the racing industry to other states?

Perryman’s Summation is that with aggregate annual benefits of $10.8-billion in spending, $4.9 billion in output, and more than 77,000 permanent jobs, it is quite clear that allowing VLTs to operate at Texas tracks brings benefits across the broad spectrum of measures while meeting demands of Texas consumers for specific entertainment opportunities and providing almost $1.5-billion in yearly State revenue. In other words, VLTs would bring jobs, industry, and dollars back to Texas.

The time is now to write to your State Senator, State Representative, and Governor Perry.

You can find information about how to locate your State representatives, industry statistics, and a sample letter to send to support the legislation to approve VLTs at: (Page no longer available).

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