Texas horse tracks avoid shutdown ... for now

Image 1 of 5

A $5 billion Texas industry is back in business after an ongoing battle to expand betting quite nearly knocked it off track.

At issue a controversial decision by the Texas Racing Commission to allow wagering on so called "historic races", videotaped contests from years past that appear on a console similar to gaming machines found at casinos.

Key Lawmakers in the Texas Senate objected and when the Racing Commission refused to reverse course it triggered the cut-off of funding to the agency at the end of the State's fiscal year.

With no oversight, no Texas track can legally operate putting races and thousands of jobs at risk.

To bust the stalemate State Representative John Otto and others on the powerful Legislative Budget Board released 90 days of funding to keep the Racing Commission open and give Governor Greg Abbott time to fill a trio of vacancies on the regulatory board.

One lawmaker called it "a cooling off period."

"Making sure those people have their jobs and benefits in place and give us more time to work this out for a long term solution," said Otto.

Otto told FOX 26 he would have preferred providing a far longer period of funding, but deferred to the Senate led by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and State Senator Jane Nelson in order to limit damage to the agency and the industry.

At Houston's Sam Houston Race Park CEO Andrea Young says an immediate solution is critical in order to avoid damage to the upcoming race season.

"My message is we need a solution and we need it now. Maybe now could be a week or two, but it can't be 60 days and it can't be 90 days otherwise you are talking about serious damages to a business in Houston that's been operating by all the rules for 21 years and we'd like the opportunity to keep doing that," said Young.