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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 3, March 2011, Posted On: 3/10/2011

Texas Lawmakers Mull Racetrack VLTs, Statewide Smoking Ban

Marcus Webb
Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, Texas State Lottery, SB 1118, video poker, video gaming, video lottery, VLT, coin machine business, coin-op news, Texas gaming news, Rodney Ellis, Texas smoking ban, SB 355

AUSTIN, TX -- A Texas state senator said a video lottery system could raise $1 billion a year in taxes for the state. On March 3, Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen) filed [SB 1118] that -- if passed -- would legalize video lottery games at the state's 13 licensed racetracks, as well as on dog tracks and Indian reservations.

VLTs would be licensed and supervised by the Texas State Lottery. Hinojosa said video gaming would also create more than 77,000 new jobs.

The state government projects it will be $15 billion to $27 billion short of needed revenues to pay for existing services and programs unless lawmakers raise taxes, cut spending and find alternative revenue sources.

If passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate, the proposal would be placed on the ballot, giving Texas voters an opportunity to approve or disapprove a constitutional amendment.

Other measures recently introduced into the Texas Legislature call for legalizing VLTs in charitable bingo halls and legalizing casinos.

Separately, the state Senate's Health and Human Services Committee voted 5-3 on March 8 to ban smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants, statewide. The bill [SB 355], sponsored by Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

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