02/16/2007 1:00AM

New slots push in Texas, Indiana


Measures that seek to legalize slot machines at racetracks in two states, Indiana and Texas, have been introduced this week into the states' legislatures.

Similar measures have been rejected by both states on numerous occasions in the past. Supporters of the measures are hoping to get the bills passed in order to rake in what is estimated to be hundreds of millions of dollars a year in slot-machine revenue both for private companies and state governments.

In Indiana, a bill that was approved on Wednesday by the House Public Policy Committee would allow for up to 2,500 machines each at the state's two racetracks, Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs. Under the bill, the state would charge a $75 million license fee up front and keep 32 percent of the gross receipts up to $150 million, and 37.5 percent of all receipts above that figure, leaving the racing industry with at least 62.5 percent of the money.

The estimate for annual casino revenue from the two racetracks is $535 million a year, meaning racetrack owners would derive approximately $335 million a year from the slots. In return, the tracks would give up subsidies from the state's existing riverboat casinos that provides $27 million a year.

In Texas, several measures that would amend the state's constitution to allow for casino-type gambling were introduced early this week. Additionally, a racing industry partnership that includes both horse racing and dog racing interests is expected to introduce its own resolution by Monday that would limit slot machines to the eight existing parimutuel tracks in the state and five other potential licensees.

For a constitutional amendment to pass in Texas, a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate is needed, along with the passage of a statewide referendum.