AUSTIN, TX -- Sometime during the 82nd session of the Texas Legislature, which convenes on Jan. 11, Rep. Richard Pena Raymond (D-Laredo) is expected to propose a bill that will either legalize eight-liner gaming machines with $1,000 payouts or ban them entirely. The decision would be made by voters on a local-option basis next November through a referendum in every Texas county, precinct or city.
Current state laws permit eight-liners as long as operators award winners noncash prizes that are worth less than 10 times the price a play or $5 in value, whichever is lower. Many eight-liner establishments allow players to accumulate plays to win much larger prizes.
Some eight-liner winners are illegally paid in cash, a practice that has sparked numerous raids and investigations across the state for more than a decade. In one recent high-profile case, some 180 eight-liner operators and their associates were indicted under RICO statutes. [see story]
Raymond said legalizing the machines would raise revenues for the state and local governments without raising taxes. It would relieve law enforcement of a burden, he said, allowing police and other agencies to redirect resources to important matters.
Texas legislators and Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, hold strong antigambling views. But the Lone Star State faces a $20 billion budget deficit next year. Pro-gambling forces, including casino supporters, hope lawmakers will look more favorably at expanding legalized gambling to make up the shortfall.