Recent action by the Texas Racing Commission to enforce its ban on
Internet and telephone wagering has resulted in a lawsuit filed by
Churchill Downs Inc. and TwinSpires.com.
In the suit, filed Sept. 21 in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas
against members of the Texas Racing Commission and its executive
director, Churchill Downs contends the legislation allowing only wagers
permitted are those made in person at a live or simulcast facility is
unconstitutional. And to support its argument, Churchill notes that the
Texas commission has declined to enforce its own ban on Internet and
telephone wagering, thus allowing Texans to carry out such activity
since the early 1990s.
"Since the 1986 enactment of the Texas Racing Act, Texas law has
required any Texan wishing to wager on a horse race to do so in person,"
Churchill's suit states. "But tellingly, the in-person requirement has
gone unenforced. Texans have placed wagers via telephone or the Internet
on out-of-state races since the 1990s-and the Racing Commission has
allowed them to do so. State officials do not ordinarily shirk their
duty to reinforce state law. But they also have a higher duty: 'Of the
legislative act is a contravention of the Constitution the office shall
obey the Constitution.'