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Lawmaker wants to legalize casinos in Texas for hurricane, flooding relief

Is it time to bring casino gambling back to Texas – legally?

HOUSTON — Rep. Joe Deshotel, D–Beaumont, filed a bill in December that could bring casino gambling to Texas with the purpose of raising funds for future hurricane and flooding relief.

But the casinos wouldn’t be allowed statewide.

Untitled HB 494 would grant a limited number of casino licenses in specific counties, reports The Houston Chronicle. The bill guarantees a limited number of licenses in Bexar, Galveston, Harris, Jefferson and Nueces Counties plus three more casino licenses in other counties along the Gulf.

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Along with granting casino licenses, HB 494 also places an 18 percent tax on casino revenue. That money would go into state trust funds to help storm victims.

Last week Deshotel also filed HB 1031 relating to the regulation of game rooms in certain counties.

As The Chronicle points out, however, casino gambling is barred by the Texas Constitution. This means even if HB 494 passes and is signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas voters would have the final say on the matter in a statewide vote in November.

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