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Video Slot Machines at Texas Tracks Hotly Debated

Friday, February 16, 2007

TEXAS – As reported by the Associated Press: "A proposal in the Texas legislature to allow video slot machines at racetracks wouldn't boost the state's economy as much as full-fledged resort
  casinos, advocates for casino gambling said Wednesday.

"Legislation by Rep. Ismael 'Kino' Flores, a Palmview Democrat, would allow video slots at racetracks and American Indian reservations. Flores said his measure would keep gambling dollars in Texas, help the financially struggling Texas horse-racing industry and bring in $1.2 billion in new annual revenue.

"On Wednesday, a day after the bill was filed, lobbyists and other representatives of the Texas Gaming Association made rounds at the Capitol to press their case for going much further in legalizing casino wagering.

"'The state shouldn't fool with it at all if they don't do it right,' said Jack Pratt of Dallas, a former hotel and casino developer who chairs the association. 'Our bill does it all, and it's the only sound way to do it.'

"Getting a gambling bill through the Legislature this year likely will be difficult, given that the state has a $14.3 billion budget surplus. Even in tight budget years, similar proposals have failed when they've run up against social conservative roadblocks.

"The gaming association, made up of prominent gambling industry figures, wants to create several 'destination resort' casinos that it says will provide 118,000 new direct jobs and a multibillion-dollar economic boon for Texas. It contends its plan would provide $4 billion in state and local tax money.

"The casino plan also would set aside money to help pay for qualified Texans' college tuition and would allow video slot machines at race tracks and American Indian reservations…"

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