A fresh push for casino gambling - Friday 27th of February 2009

State lawmakers from Houston, Dallas and San Antonio - plus the head of the House budget-writing committee - today launched a fresh push for Las Vegas-style destination resort casinos in Texas.

Slot machines also would be allowed at the states existing race tracks under the proposal by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston; Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas; Rep. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio; and House Appropriations Committee Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie. In addition, the three federally recognized Indian tribes could operate a casino on their tribal lands.

"Texans already are voting with their feet and going out of state" to gamble, said Ellis. Menendez noted that Texas is "surrounded by gaming."

Opposition immediately arose from a racetrack group that is pushing more narrowly for slot machines at tracks and from conservative and Christian groups.

Backers of Senate Joint Resolution 31 and Senate Bill 1084, the broad gambling legislation, said their proposal would bring in at least $3 billion a year in new state and local revenue.

The legislation calls for $1 billion to be funneled to a trust fund for college scholarships and another $1 billion to transportation.

Casino proponents also said their proposal would create 90,000 to 120,000 direct jobs.

Up to 12 casinos would be allowed statewide, with designated areas for nine of them: Galveston, South Padre Island, Bexar County, Tarrant County, Travis County and two each in Dallas and Harris Counties.

Tommy Azopardi of Texans for Economic Development, the racetrack group, said the legislation would create a "widely disparate tax rate" between casinos and tracks (15 percent versus 35 percent), wouldnt allow tracks to have the same games as casinos and would greatly expand "the footprint of gambling in the state."

Casino backers said tracks could apply for one of the casino licenses but would have to go through the same process as other applicants.

Suzii Paynter of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention said casinos would be in competition with "family friendly" attractions and businesses and could cause them to close.

"Weve developed a tourism industry that is not yielding the byproduct of addiction," Paynter said. "Why would we give that up for an industry that promises entertainment but delivers addiction?"

Casino proponents disagree that casinos result in social ills including a higher crime rate and more gaming addiction.

Cathie Adams of the Texas Eagle Forum was unimpressed by the predicted job increase.

"Why in the world would we want our children to grow up to be card dealers and waitresses?" Adams asked.

The proposal would require approval of a constitutional amendment by two-thirds of lawmakers and voters statewide.

Other news from around the same time

Goa asks offshore casinos to shift further down in sea - Friday 27th of February 2009

Goa asked the casino vessels operating off the Mandovi river shores in the state to shift further do....

Businessmans plea over casino plan - Friday 27th of February 2009

One of Yarmouths best-known businessmen has stepped into the debate over where the resorts large cas....

Ladbrokes casino machines pay off - Friday 27th of February 2009

Punters may have been left looking at snowbound and waterlogged racecourses on the bookies televisio....

Centre in the frame for casino plan - Friday 27th of February 2009

THE ExCeL exhibition centre in Newhams Docklands could soon be home to a new large casino.The exhibi....

Bill would allow tribal gambling - Friday 27th of February 2009

American Indian tribes in Texas are trying again to reopen their casinos with legislation filed Tues....

Cagayan casino plan relies on opening of new airport - Friday 27th of February 2009

The Cagayan Freeport and Special Economic Zone is projecting to create over 5,000 additional jobs wi....

The chips are down for casino-owning tribe - Friday 27th of February 2009

The Indian tribe that owns the biggest casino in the country on 1,500 wooded acres here - and wants ....

Casino gambling in the islands - Friday 27th of February 2009

The main attraction of a Caribbean vacation has always been the sugar-white sand and clear, turquois....

Google should not be allowed to advertise online gambling say MPs - Thursday 26th of February 2009

The MPs backed a warning by the Church of England warning that the search engines actions were irres....

Plans for casino at former cinema site - Thursday 26th of February 2009

DONCASTERS landmark Odeon cinema could be demolished and replaced with a casino, if developers get t....