Texas Racing Commission
TxRC Header
top navigation
page-border-left Side Navigation
Texas Racing Commission

Laws


Texas Racing Act

Article 16. Local Option Election

Sec. 16.01. Condition Precedent.
  (a) The commission shall not issue a racetrack license or accept an application for a license for a racetrack to be located in a county until the commissioners court has certified to the secretary of state that the qualified voters of the county have approved the legalization of pari-mutuel wagering on horse races or greyhound races in that county at an election held under this article. A local option election may not be held under this article before January 1, 1987.
  (b) A racetrack may not be located within a home-rule city unless a majority of the votes cast in the city in the election held under this article that legalized pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in the county were in favor of legalization. This subsection does not apply to a licensed racetrack that was located outside the boundaries of the city when it was first licensed and has continuously held a license since the original license was issued.

Sec. 16.02. Methods for Initiating Election.
The commissioners court on its own motion by a majority vote of its members may order an election to approve the legalization of pari-mutuel wagering on horse races or greyhound races, and it shall order an election on presentation of a petition meeting the requirements of this article.

Sec. 16.021. Approval of Simulcast Races.
The commissioners court of a county in which there is a racetrack conducting live racing, on its own motion by a majority vote of its members, may order an election to approve parimutuel wagering on simulcast greyhound or horse races.

Sec. 16.03. Application for Petition; Issuance.
If petitioned to do so by written application of 10 or more registered voters of the county, the county clerk shall issue to the applicants a petition to be circulated among registered voters for their signatures.

Sec. 16.04. Contents of Application.
To be valid, an application must contain:
(1) a heading, in the following words: "Application for a Petition for a Local Option Election to Approve the Legalization of Pari-mutuel Wagering on Horse Races" or "Application for a Petition for a Local Option Election to Approve the Legalization of Pari-mutuel Wagering on Greyhound Races," as appropriate;
(2) a statement of the issue to be voted on, in the following words: "Legalizing pari-mutuel wagering on horses races in _____________ County" or "Legalizing pari-mutuel wagering on greyhound races in _____________ County," as appropriate;
(3) a statement immediately above the signatures of the applicants, reading as follows: "It is the hope, purpose, and intent of the applicants whose signatures appear below that pari-mutuel wagering on horse races be legalized in _____________ County" or "It is the hope, purpose, and intent of the applicants whose signatures appear below that pari-mutuel wagering on greyhound races be legalized in _____________ County," as appropriate; and
(4) the printed name, signature, residence address, and voter registration certificate number of each applicant.

Sec. 16.05. Contents of Petition.
To be valid, a petition must contain:
(1) a heading, in the following words: "Petition for a Local Option Election to Approve the Legalization of Pari-mutuel Wagering on Horse Races" or "Petition for a Local Option Election to Approve the Legalization of Pari-mutuel Wagering on Greyhound Races," as appropriate;
(2) a statement of the issue to be voted on, in the same words used in the application;
(3) a statement immediately above the signatures of the petitioners, reading as follows: "It is the hope, purpose, and intent of the petitioners whose signatures appear below that pari-mutuel wagering on horse races be legalized in _______________ County" or "It is the hope, purpose, and intent of the petitioners whose signatures appear below that pari-mutuel wagering on greyhound races be legalized in _____________ County," as appropriate;
(4) lines and spaces for the names, signatures, addresses, and voter registration certificate numbers of the petitioners; and
(5) the date of issuance, the serial number, and the seal of the county clerk on each page.

Sec. 16.06. Copies.
The county clerk shall keep the application and a copy of the petition in the files of that office. The clerk shall issue to the applicants as many copies as they request.

Sec. 16.07. Filing of Petition; Number of Signatures.
To form the basis for the ordering of an election, the petition must be filed with the county clerk not later than the 30th day after the date of its issuance, and it must contain a number of signatures of registered voters of the county equal to five percent of the number of votes cast in the county for all candidates for governor in the most recent gubernatorial general election.

Sec. 16.08. Review by County Clerk.
  (a) The county clerk shall, on request of any person, check each name on the petition to determine whether the signer is a registered voter of the county. The person requesting this verification by the county clerk shall pay the county clerk a sum equal to 20 cents per name before commencement of the verification.
  (b) The county clerk may not count a signature if there is reason to believe that:
(1) it is not the actual signature of the purported signer;
(2) the voter registration certificate number is not correct;
(3) it is a duplication either of a name or of handwriting used in any other signature on the petition;
(4) the residence address of the signer is not correct; or
(5) the name of the voter is not signed exactly as it appears on the official copy of the current list of registered voters for the voting year in which the petition is issued.

Sec. 16.09. Certification.
Not later than the 40th day after the date the petition is filed, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, the county clerk shall certify to the commissioners court the number of registered voters signing the petition.

Sec. 16.10. Order of Election.
  (a) The commissioners court shall record on its minutes the date the petition is filed and the date it is certified by the county clerk.
  (b) If the petition contains the required number of signatures and is in proper order, the commissioners court shall, at its next regular session after the certification by the county clerk, order an election to be held at the regular polling place in each county election precinct in the county on the next uniform election date authorized by Section 41.001, Election Code, that occurs at least 20 days after the date of the order. The commissioners court shall state in the order the issue to be voted on in the election. The order is prima facie evidence of compliance with all provisions necessary to give it validity.

Sec. 16.11. Application of Election Code.
  (a) The election shall be held and the returns shall be prepared and canvassed in conformity with the Election Code.
  (b) The ballots shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: "Legalizing pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in _____________ County," "Legalizing parimutuel wagering on greyhound races in _____________ County," or "Authorizing parimutuel wagering on simulcast races in _____________ County," as appropriate.

Sec. 16.12. Results of Election.
  (a) If a majority of the votes cast in the election are for the legalization of pari-mutuel wagering on horse races or greyhound races in the county, or for the authorization of parimutuel wagering on simulcast races in the county, as appropriate, the commissioners court shall certify that fact to the secretary of state not later than the 10th day after the date of the canvass of the returns.
  (b) No other election may be held in the county under this Act until five years have elapsed since the date of the preceding election.

Sec. 16.13. Contest of Election.
  (a) Not later than the 30th day after the date the result of the election is declared, any qualified voter of the county may contest the election by filing a petition in the district court of the county. Any person who is licensed or who has made application to the commission to be licensed in any capacity under this Act may become a named party to the proceedings by pleading to the petition on or before the time set for hearing and trial as provided by Subsection (c) of this section or thereafter by intervention on leave of court.
  (b) The proceedings in the suit shall be conducted in the manner prescribed by Title 14, Election Code, for contesting an election held for a purpose other than the election of an officer or officers. Unless otherwise provided by this Act, the applicable Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and all applicable statutes govern the proceedings and appeals held and conducted under this Act.
  (c) At or after the time for hearing and trial, the judge shall hear and determine all questions of law and fact in the proceedings and may enter orders as to the proceedings that will enable the judge to try and determine the questions and to render a final judgment with the least possible delay.

Sec. 16.14. Contest of Election; Bond.
At any time prior to the entry of a final judgment in the proceedings, any party may ask the court to dismiss the contestant's action unless the contestant posts a bond with sufficient surety, approved by the court, payable to the movant for the payment of all damages and costs that may accrue by reason of the delay that will be occasioned by the continued participation of the contestant in the proceedings in the event that the contestant fails to finally prevail and obtain substantially the judgment prayed for in the petition. The court shall then issue an order directed to the contestant, which order, together with a copy of the motion, shall be served on all parties, or on their attorney of record, personally or by registered mail, requiring the contestant to appear at the time and place, not sooner than five nor later than 10 days after receipt of the order and motion, as the court may direct, and show cause why the motion should not be granted. The maximum bond that the court may set is $100,000 for contests of elections for tracks to be located in a county that has a population of 1.3 million or more and in which a municipality with a population of more than one million is primarily located. The maximum bond that the court may set is $10,000 for contests of elections for tracks to be located in any other county. Motions with respect to more than one contestant may be heard together if so directed by the court. Unless at the hearing on the motion the contestant establishes facts that in the judgment of the court would entitle the contestant to a temporary injunction against the issuance of licenses on the basis of the election in question, the court shall grant the motion of the movant and in its order the court shall fix the amount of the bond to be posted by the contestant in an amount found by the court to be sufficient to cover all damages and costs that may accrue by reason of the delay that will be occasioned by the continued participation of the contestant in the proceedings in the event that the contestant fails to prevail and obtain substantially the judgment prayed for in its petition.

Sec. 16.15. Contest of Election; Appeal.
Any party to the cause who is dissatisfied with an order or judgment entered under Section 16.13 of this Act may appeal to the appropriate court of appeals after the entry of the order or judgment; otherwise the order or judgment becomes final. If such a party does not file an appeal not later than the 30th day after the date on which the result of the election is declared, it is presumed that the election is valid. Any appeal has priority over all other cases, causes, or matters pending in the court of appeals, except habeas corpus, and the court of appeals shall assure the priority and act on the matter and render it final order or judgment with the least possible delay. The supreme court may review by writ of error or other authorized procedure all questions of law arising out of the orders and judgments of the court of appeals in the manner, time, and form applicable in other civil causes in which a decision of the court of appeals is not final, but the review has priority over all other cases, causes, or matters pending in the supreme court, except habeas corpus, and the supreme court shall assure the priority and review and act on the matter and render its final order or judgment with the least possible delay.

Sec. 16.16. Suit to Have Precedence.
The court shall accelerate the disposition of any action brought under this Act.

Sec. 16.17. Contestee.
  (a) The county attorney is the contestee of a suit brought under Section 16.13 of this Act. If there is no county attorney of the county, then the criminal district attorney or district attorney is the contestee.
  (b) Costs of the election contest may not be adjudged against the contestee or against the county, and neither may be required to give bond on appeal.

Sec. 16.18. Rescission Election.

  (a) The commissioners court of a county that elects to approve the legalization of racing with pari-mutuel wagering in that county may hold an election on the question of rescinding that approval. The court shall order such an election on the presentation of a petition that requests such a rescission. The election may not be held earlier than two years after the date of the election conducted under Section 16.10 of this Act at which the legalization of pari-mutuel wagering was approved. The petition must meet the requirements imposed under this article for a petition to request a local option election on the question of the legalization of racing with pari-mutuel wagering. An election to rescind legalization of racing shall be conducted in the manner provided for the original local option election under this article. The ballots shall be printed to permit voting for or against the proposition: "Rescinding the legalization of pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in _____________ County" or "Rescinding the legalization of pari-mutuel wagering on greyhound races in _____________ County," as appropriate.
  (b) If the majority of the votes cast in an election under this section favor the rescission, racing with pari-mutuel wagering may not be conducted in that county except as provided by Subsection (c) of this section.
  (c) An association located in a county that elects to rescind the legalization of racing and that has outstanding long-term liabilities may continue to operate on a temporary basis as provided by Section 18.01 of this Act.

Racing Act Table of Contents Previous Article Next Article

Page updated: 8/25/08

page-border-right
footer