Big week ahead for gaming, casinos in Texas

– Contributing Writer- Austin Business JournalEmail
Apr 8, 2013, 11:27am CDT

Lawmakers, representatives of the business community and other stakeholders will attend an April 8 press conference at the Capitol in support of legislation to widen gaming opportunities for Texas businesses.

Senate Business and Commerce Committee Chair John Carona, R-Dallas, will discuss Senate Joint Resolution 64 that proposes a constitutional amendment to create a limited number of destination resort casinos and permit casinos, and permit slots at certain approved horse and dog racetracks. As a constitutional amendment, this measure would ultimately be determined by voters.

“There isn’t a single other economic opportunity that can match the total effect of this legislation’s application,” Carona said. “There isn’t another source of tax revenue as great as this, either.”

The 1 p.m. conference will highlight several issues: how more than 80 percent of Texans want a debate and vote on gaming; that enactment of the legislation would enable Texas to recapture $2.9 billion in gaming revenues exported to neighboring states annually; how it would result in tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in capital investment and construction; and would create a new tax revenue to fund education. Strong public safety enforcement measures contained in the resolution will combat illegal gaming, also, which remains prevalent in the state.

“Texas has a lot of illegal gaming activity that is unregulated and untaxed,” said John Montford, chairman of Let Texans Decide, a coalition of pro-gaming business leaders, horsemen and community organizations, which supports the legislation. “This would make the situation a lot better than it is now.”

The Senate Committee on Business and Commerce will convene at 8 a.m. on April 10 in room E1.028 of the Capitol Extension to take up the resolution.

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