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Horse race betting initiatives on Presidio November ballot

Voters in Presidio will vote on two referendums to weather or not legalize pari-mutuel and simulcast betting within the county.

PRESIDIO, Texas — Saddle up! If you live in Presidio County, your vote will determine if a horse racetrack will or won't be built in town.

Voters in Presidio will vote on two referendums whether or not legalize pari-mutuel and simulcast betting within the county.

The people behind the proposed racetrack are going by the name of Presidio Desert Downs. NewsWest 9 spoke with spokesperson with the group, Joe Valdez.

He told NewsWest 9 the two initiatives are important to them because if they don't get passed then no racetrack will be built.

Valdez said that this idea had been years in the making. The reason is to grow the city of Presidio .

"We have ICE, Border Patrol and the Presidio Independent School District, those are the largest employers in the area," said Valdez. "Of course, we have the local shops and those kinds of things, but that's it. We don't have anything else and we keep losing people."

Valdez decided to approach the Presidio Commissioners Court this year to start the idea.

"The county had to have a vote to be able to legalize pari-mutuel and simulcast betting and so from there we contacted the county judge and the commissioners," said Valdez. "They put it to vote to see if the November 2nd election would be a great place to put that in. They agreed and so here we are about to vote on it."

Pari-mutuel betting allows bets to be placed in a pool in-person where the event is happening. Simulcast betting allows for bets to be placed virtually without being physically present.

According to Valdez, if voters approve the betting measures there is another step. The proposal will go to the Texas Racing Commission for approval. This process could take about a year.

Presidio County Commissioner Frank Knight for Precinct 4 told NewsWest 9 he believes the idea would benefit the area and its residents.

"Any time we can tax business infrastructure over homeowners, people prefer that," said Knight. "You can't raise taxes over 3.2% per year now, that's what the state says. The way you get more revenue is through newer infrastructure and new things being built."

Valdez hopes people support the initiative to continue to promote tourism in the city of Presidio.

"We are here to make the area better," said Valdez. "It's a beautiful area for everybody not only if you are from West Texas."

Early voting ends this week. The last day of early voting is Oct 29th. Voters can still cast their vote on election day Nov. 2nd from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.