Texas House bill seeks to introduce destination casino resorts

Casino slot machines
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New legislation has been filed in Texas that would allow the state’s population to vote in November on if casinos and sports betting should be legalized.

On Feb. 3, House Joint Resolution 97 was filed by Rep. Charlie Geren which, if approved, would see gaming companies apply for licenses to build seven “destination resorts” across the Lone Star state, including the state’s racetracks that hold a pari-mutuel license.

These casinos would be located as follows – two in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, two in the Houston area, and one each in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and McAllen. 

The above locations were selected since they represent the “greatest positive economic impact from destination resort development,” and the casinos themselves will also have “various tourism amenities and facilities,” such as hotels and restaurants.

The bill would impose a 15% tax on the gross casino gaming revenue of each casino license holder.

Similar to Sen. Carol Alvarado’s bill filed in the state’s Senate in November, the House legislation would also allow voters to decide if sports betting should be allowed, and it would also create a Texas Gaming Commission.

Other bills have been introduced over the past month as well that will make sure that tribes are included in any expansion of gambling in the Lone Star state.

HJR 97’s summary stated:

“Proposing a constitutional amendment to foster economic development and job growth, provide tax relief and funding for education and public safety programs, and reform and support the horse racing industry by authorizing casino gaming at destination resorts, creating the Texas Gaming Commission, authorizing sports wagering, requiring a license to conduct casino gaming, and requiring the imposition of a gaming and sports wagering tax and license application fees.”

The legislation will have to receive the support of the House and Senate as well as Gov. Greg Abbott before it can go to the Texas public to be voted on in November. The state’s constitution would then be amended if the public votes yes to the bill.

Recent research from the University of Houston has indicated that a large number of Texans would support gambling expansion in the state.