03/03/2011 5:35PM

Bills call for slots referendum in Texas


A pair of Texas lawmakers on Thursday filed legislation proposing a statewide referendum on the installation of slot machines at horse and dog tracks in Texas, as well as at three Indian reservations. The legislation was filed in both the House and the Senate, with the next action expected to come in the House, said Mike Lavigne, a spokesperson for the slots-proponent group Win For Texas.

There are several stages before a referendum would come to pass. The first is the probable referral of the legislation to a committee. From there, Lavigne said a hearing with public testimony would be held. Eventually, the legislation would need to reach the house floor for a vote. The referendum bill was filed by state legislators Sen. Juan Hinojosa, a Democrat from McAllen, and Texas Rep. Beverly Woolley, a Republican from Houston.

“For years, Texas has missed out on billions of dollars in gaming and entertainment revenues while neighboring states pocket the winnings,” Hinojosa said in a release from Win For Texas.

The state is losing $2.5 billion a year in revenue to Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico, all of which having gaming, according to the release.

The legislation calls for the Class 1 tracks in Texas, Lone Star Park, Sam Houston and Retama, to pay the state $25 million in up-front fees before slots would be installed.

Texas tracks have been reducing race dates to try and keep purses competitive with racing programs in surrounding states that receive supplements from slot machines and other forms of gaming.