Texas Returns to Subject of Expanded Gambling
Texas lawmakers are once again visiting the subject of expanding gambling in the state. A severe budget deficit has the legislators eager to consider any path that might allow funding of government services without raising taxes.
Gambling supporters outweighed detractors last year during the battle for gambling at the Texas Statehouse, but infighting over whose personal vision of gaming would be adopted prevented any one plan from advancing. Still, an $18 billion budget shortfall has brought the possibility of race track slots and resort casinos back to the table.
However, an official from the state comptroller's office told a legislative committee that any new gambling laws might not have a significant financial effect for some time.
“You won’t get any money the first year, and it is very likely you will get a small amount the second year,” said John Heleman to the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee. Heleman said the process to legalize a gambling expansion would first have to be approved by lawmakers, then pass a general ballot test to become a constitutional amendment.
The earliest voters could judge the measure would be November of next year, according to Heleman. Then rules and regulations would have to be devised, preventing any impact for close to two years.
Gambling supporters responded that the sooner the process begins, the sooner Texas can benefit from the gambling revenues it currently sees leaving across the borders to Louisiana and Oklahoma. And some seemed to have learned it is necessary to compromise in order to get gaming laws changed.
“There is opportunity for both casinos and racetracks,” said Andy Abboud, vice president for Las Vegas Sands, one of the potential operators if resort casinos are licensed in the state.
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