Tue March 29, 2011
The Push for Casinos to Save the Texas Budget
With lawmakers ready to cut around $23 billion from the state budget - any ideas that could raise revenue are going to get a listen. Casino and Racino (that's a horse track casino) interests are at the Texas Capitol this morning trying to convince lawmakers to take the money and jobs they can offer. Depending on which casino bill you're looking at, the industry is promising more than a billion dollars a year in tax revenue along with about 150,000 construction jobs and 39,000 direct jobs at the facilities.
The pro-casino interests released a poll this week showing 67% of the state supports destination resort casinos, with 86% believing the legislature should let the voters decide on a constitutional amendment to allow casinos. There are several different bills working their way through the legislature. Some would build up to 8 destination casinos along with allowing Racinos too. Others just allow race tracks to add slot machines and other games. The chairman of the House Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee, Rep. Tuffy Hamilton (R-Mauriceville) says he's going to take one of those bills to the floor for a vote. But, even if Hamilton finds the 100 votes needed to pass, as the Statesman reported this morning, it could be DOA in the Senate.
It will be interesting to see if any of the current "no" votes start to waiver as the effects of massive state budget cuts become more clear.