Senator Ellis Files Casino Gaming Legislation
AUSTIN, TX — Today Senator Rodney Ellis of Houston filed legislation SJR 34 in the Texas Senate, while Representative Jose Menendez from San Antonio filed the same measure in the House as HJR 112, to let Texas voters decide on whether they want to allow casino gaming become a source of revenue as an alternative to proposed budget cuts.
"Texans deserve the right to decide whether they want draconian cuts to children's education, health care for the elderly, and aid to veterans, or they want to move forward with an option to bring back jobs and money to Texas that we are giving away to other states. We are facing a record budget deficit. All reasonable options to generate revenue ought to be on the table," said Ellis. "It is time for our state to capture the benefits of this industry and take advantage of significant capital investment, new jobs, a revived travel and tourism industry and revenue that will help fund education and keep our promise of lower property taxes."
Consistent polling data has shown that Texans want the opportunity to vote on this issue. A recent survey conducted by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune indicated that 81% of Texans favor an expansion of gaming this legislative session.
The legislation places a constitutional amendment before Texas voters that would authorize up to eight destination resort casinos including two for coastal islands, and an additional eight licenses for slot machines at existing Texas horse and dog tracks. The legislation also allows three Indian casinos. Each of the three recognized Indian tribes in Texas would be able to operate a gaming facility on their tribal lands in accordance with state and federal law.
Money generated by a tax on the gaming revenues will be directed to the Property Tax Relief Fund, helping to ensure that the legislature keeps the promise of lower local property tax rates. Non-gaming tax stream revenue generated from within the destination resorts will fund college scholarships through the TEXAS Grant College Scholarship Program.
"Texans are already gaming across the entire state — Texans play the lottery in 16,000 different locations, online poker from home computers, up to 150,000 illegal eight liner machines that are littered across the state and casinos right across our surrounding borders — we're just sending those Texas tax dollars to other states to pay for new roads in Oklahoma and schools in Louisiana. It's time to keep that revenue here in Texas to benefit Texans," Ellis added.
"I am in full agreement with Senator Ellis" Rep. Menendez added. "We need to keep Texas dollars here to fund our own children's education, and we should let the voters decide if they want to create the jobs and economic development opportunities that high quality destination casinos will mean for those communities who support these initiatives. Give the choice to the people!"