Casino Expansion Bill Introduced in Texas
There is good news for gamblers in Texas after a bill introduced this week by State Representative Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) would legalise commercial casino gaming and authorise up to nine casinos in the state.
Deshotel introduced a similar bill in 2015, which was Texas’ last legislative session, but it dwindled without a trace. However, he is clearly optimistic as he is perusing the cause once again despite the fact that he is most likely to face strong opposition.
At present Texas has just one casino, the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino, close to the Rio Grande Mexican border. It offers bingo, poker and electronic pull-tab dispensers designed to look and operate like slot machines.
There were two other tribal casinos but they closed in 2002. It was only last year that the Alabama-Coushattas reopened the East Texas Bingo Hall after the federal government ruled that the tribe should be permitted to operate Class II gaming on its lands.
However, Texas is already trying to shut this down and argues that electronic bingo should be classed as slots and therefore Class III gaming.
Deshotel is calling for a state-wide referendum on casino expansion and he would need 100 of the state’s 150 representatives on board in order to push through a constitutional amendment to voters.
He is arguing for the proceeds from an 18% tax on casino revenue going to help pay for storm insurance for homeowners on the coast who need protection against the threat of hurricanes. However, even the lottery is controversial in Texas, despite the $2.2 billion a year it brings for good causes, so he is certainly facing an uphill struggle.