This entry was updated and revised on August 9, 2011. 

On December 10 2010, Rolando B. Pablos, Chair of the Texas Racing Commission (TRC) sent a written request for an opinion to Attorney General Greg Abbott on whether or not the Texas residency requirements found in the Texas Racing Act concerning race track licenses in Texas were unconstitutional. 

The sale referenced in the request letter was undoubtedly the October 2009 winning bid of $47.8 million on Lone Star Park by Global Gaming LSP, LLC (i.e. the Chickasaw Nation of Ardmore, Oklahoma), which was approved by a Delaware bankruptcy court in October 2009. It was taking the TRC forever to approve the Chickasaws’ purchase of Lone Star, and people were getting nervous.  For reasons unknown to me, TRC waited over 1 year after the bankruptcy court’s approval of the winning bid to inquire of the Attorney General questions regarding the constitutionality of the Racing Act’s residency requirements.

In his request letter, Mr. Pablos implored the Attorney General’s office to provide an opinion before February 15, 2011, which was the date of the next Meeting of the TRC. Presumably tired of waiting on the Attorney General, the TRC went ahead and approved the sale of Lone Star to the Chickasaw Nation at its meeting on May 13, 2011.  The TRC determined that Global Gaming met the Texas Racing Act’s residency requirements, regardless of whether those requirements are constitutional or not. 

The Attorney General Opinion was just released this Monday on August 1, 2011. A copy can be found here, but it sheds no light on whether the Racing Act’s residency requirements are constitutional.  Basically, the Attorney General stated that he could not provide an opinion because doing so would involve answering questions of fact, which the AG cannot do.

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Note:  I would like to thank the Texas Racing Commission for reading the republication of this entry in Horseback Magazine’s online publication and pointing out some items that may warrant clarification.  I would like to clarify that the Attorney General is a statewide elected official and is not appointed by the Governor.  The TRC commissioners are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, but are responsible for their own decisisions and exercise independent judgment in addressing the issues that come before the Commission. 

Nothing in the blog entry that went live on August 4, 2011 was intended to imply that there is any question as to the legality of the sale of Lone Star Park to Global Gaming or the TRC’s approval of Global Gaming’s license.