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Texan Casino and Card Room Gaming

Casinos are not currently legal in the state of Texas. Texas legislative history is littered with failed attempts to bring casinos to the state.

In February 2005, lawmakers attempted to legalize video lottery terminals (VLTs). The legislation was withdrawn in March 2005.
In April 2007, there was an unsuccessful attempt to legalize live and electronic poker in certain specified establishments. Current law allows poker if it is conducted at a private residence with no rake to the house.

In May 2007, state Senators Carona and Ellis co-sponsored a measure to allow voters a chance to decide on expansion of gambling in the state. The legislation called for 12 casinos and slots at racetracks. The bill was filed in February 2009 and opposed by groups representing conservative interests. In May 2009, the bill died in the House when the deadline for a scheduled vote passed.

In 2011, more than 26 gaming bills were introduced. Most notably, HJR137, a constitutional amendment authorizing legislators to legalize and regulate wagering in Texas, was passed by the L&P committee (contingent on approval by voters), only to die after the deadline passed and the requisite 100 signatures were not collected. Two bills proposing the legalization of VLTs at racetracks, SB1118/SJR33 and HB2111/HJR111, were introduced on 3 March 2011, and referred to the Licensing and Administrative Procedures committee on 29 March. When the regular legislative session ended, neither VLT bill had passed.

In 2012, "Let Texans Decide!" was formed out of frustration at the lack of legislation clearing both houses. The movement is made up of state business leaders, horsemen, community organizations and Texas citizens set on passing legislation that will put the gaming expansion issue on the ballot for the voters.

For the 2013 legislative session, proponents of expanded gambling were even more hopeful. On 22 February 2013, Sen. Hinojosa (D-District 20) filed SJR36 and SB789, calling for a constitutional referendum to allow VLTs at licensed horse and greyhound racetracks and by Indian tribes. This bill was assigned to the Senate Finance Committee on March 18, where it remained.

Next, on 6 March 2013, Rep. Raymond (D-District 42) filed companion legislation HB2729 and HJR121, also calling for a constitutional referendum to allow VLTs at racetracks. It was assigned to the House Licensing and Administration Committee on 18 March, and it never advanced.

20 March 2013, Sen. Carona (R-Dallas) filed SJR64, which would place a constitutional amendment before Texas voters that authorized up to eight destination resort casinos, eight licenses for slots at racetracks and three tribal casinos, one by each of the three recognized Indian tribes in accordance with state and federal law; and created a Texas Gaming Commission to regulate the gaming industry, with gaming proceeds benefiting the Property Tax Relief Fund and the Texas Grant College Scholarship Program. A 20% tax on gaming revenue was proposed. The bill never made it past the Senate Business and Commerce committee.

The Texas Legislature is expected to discuss several gaming proposals in 2015, but none of the proposals are expected to gain traction.

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