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Should Texas Legalize Video Gaming?

Which City would benefit from video gaming, and should they legalize it in Texas?  

12 members have voted

  1. 1. Which City would benefit from video gaming, and should they legalize it in Texas?

    • YES
    • NO
    • Dallas
    • Houston
    • San Antonio
    • Galveston
    • Central Texas
    • Rio Grande Valley
    • El Paso
    • Panhandle-South Plains
    • East Texas

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If they legalize this in Texas do you know what that means? Downtown Houston could get lisense for video gaming in area like, Downtown Aquarium, Hilton Americas, GRB Convention center, hotels, even condos. I think they should pass it, this will benefit alot of companies. They even could add a video gaming place on main street, now that would be awasome if they do. But time will tell.

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I'd hate to see this happen.

In south carolina they had/have it. An establishment can have as many machines as employees on shift so youd have extra machines covered up or unplugged. Youd usually find it in your grungier bars, truck-stops and covienence stores.

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Everyone is untitled to their opinon, but for me I hope it happens. 27 this is not louisana, not is it south carolina. This is Texas! Alot of big people is backing this bill up, and I'm with them. Yea, I agree on what you said 27 that it will bring the wrong type of people to our cities, but what their looking at is venue, well more venue to help the fund of schools (which i think it's wrong to base gambling on). Yes, you see it in truck stops and convience stores, but that's there. We have them also, but when they legalize it in the state of texas alot of big business is going to cater to it, just because of more venue. Big businessmen like, Tilliman Fertilla, he enters in the gambling world by purchasing a casino in las vegas, that will open up the doors here when they legalize it.

I know it's alot of people against it, but it's also alot of people for it. Just imagine the impact it will have downtown, it will be more people catering to it. This will also open up for expansion gambling in the future for texas.

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Some of the places you frequent now, if allowed to add video gaming will become those grungy establishments.

Semi - I don't know what half baked propaganda you've been fed, but video gaming will not help anything: our economy, our commerce, our tourism, and most of all - our neighborhoods. Again, I'm advising that you go to Louisiana and see what happens when big business promises big things if they are allowed gaming. The only thing they deliver will be the bare minimum.

Coog is right - keep it at the tracks, or on the islands.

It's sleazy and anyone who is optimistic about improving Houston should be against it period. Gambling operators are a form of social predator bottom line and hopefully Houston, if not Texas, will show some class and backbone when it comes to this and refuse to permit it no matter what the income projections.

By the way, there are those semi-illegal gambling machines in at least 3 discreet locations in my neighborhood and in many other neighborhoods. Our Civic Club president will be on tv tonight on Channel 11 at 10pm (I think that's right). She was contacted by an investigative reporter about this current gambling machine phenomenon.

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Is illegal gambling overlooked in Houston?

09:21 AM CST on Friday, February 11, 2005

By Mark Greenblatt / 11 News

Click to watch video

The 11 News Defenders have discovered that the currently illegal activity is running rampant and attracting violent criminals, possibly near your home.

A local lawmaker says he not only wants to keep those mini-casinos illegal, but strengthen the penalties against them. He points to what the Defenders have found in a two-month, hidden-camera investigation: an underground industry spreading so quickly that law enforcement can't keep up.

The slot machines are not in Las Vegas and not in Monte Carlo, but right here in Houston. They're part of a growing underground industry the 11 News Defenders have uncovered.


Illegal video slot machine parlors can be found all over Houston.

"That's disturbing to me," said Wini Tolson, president of the Pecan Park Civic Association in southeast Houston. "All we want to do is keep our neighborhood nice and clean, attractive and safe."

That's why she was so upset to learn about what was discovered, just two blocks away.

"I am surprised," said Tolson. "I go in there to get gas."

It was a neighborhood mall, where a mysterious corner storefront -- with no name -- does brisk business, practically right out in the open, 24 hours a day.

"That's really frightening," said Tolson. "We have enough crime without bringing that kind of crime in the neighborhood."

So what kind of crime's happening right back there? Illegal gambling.

And this kind of business is booming. Illegal, mini-casinos setting up shop all across Houston.

For example, at the first stop -- the location on Griggs Road -- the doors are locked and the windows are blacked out, but you don't have to know a secret password to get in. Just knock, and they'll happily welcome you.

Once inside, sign in and the house matches your first five bucks of play just to get you going.

But first, they might even light your cigarette.

"Woo-hoo!!" yells one lucky player.

And if you don't like one machine, there are dozens more.

When you're done, you collect your winnings -- all in cash.

If you get bored playing here, you just have to go around the corner, behind a washateria, where you'll find a gated door. Dozens of slot machines are inside and a store attendant promises decent money can be made.

"This one, they got $85 dollars out of it," he said.

And when it was time, we got our winnings in cash.

And our next stop? It isn't far either -- right up the street on Lawndale. Again, you play -- you get paid.

A little further out there's 3730 Broadway -- another strip mall, more blacked-out windows, but this one has a doorman outside.

Once you're in, it's play and get paid -- in cash.

At 901 Wayside Drive, we saw the same kind of blacked-out windows, but no locked door -- just walk right on in, play and get paid.

What did Tolson think of this news?

"Well, is atrocious a good word to use for that?" replied Tolson.

And when the Defenders took the regular cameras back:

"Hi, Mark Greenblatt, with 11 News, we just want to ask you a few questions about your business." The door closed.

It was the same story at the next four locations.

No one wanted to talk.

But Wini Tolson had another worry.

"People are willing to come in with weapons and shoot -- just to take the money," she said.

That's right, these establishments are prime spots for robberies.

At one game room southwest of the Galleria, armed robbers forced everyone to the floor. There were the machines and plenty of cash.

HPD Sgt. Bruce Eichenberg investigated the robbery and was asked, "Isn't this one of those businesses, that's questionable, or illegal?"

"Well, that's not anything I'm focusing on, but we'll have our vice division take a look at that," said Sgt. Eichenberg.

But when the Defenders took a look at that same place recently, it was still operating.

That's right, business as usual -- with plenty of slots to choose from and cash payouts.

"I don't know if we we're already investigating that location," said Capt. Dwayne Ready, an HPD spokesperson.

He's talked with the Defenders because their vice department wouldn't.

OK, but what about the game room robbed in early December? Just last week, the Defenders found them up, running and paying out.

So what's taking two months for the officers to go in and shut down some of these places after they've responded?

"I would agree with you -- if there were only a very limited number of locations and the officers could focus their attention on just those locations," replied Capt. Ready.

But State Representative Corbin Van Arsdale of Houston says that's not good enough.

"I'm obviously disappointed," said Van Arsdale.

He went undercover with the Defenders near the Griggs casino.

"There are these places, and they are sophisticated, and someone's making a lot of money off of it," said Van Arsdale.

But he says there's a big problem -- the law.

"The penalties are going to have to be stiffer," he said.

Harris County Prosecutor Denise Nassar agrees. "It's a class A misdemeanor," she says.

She says with such a light penalty, "The risk doesn't outweigh the benefit."

"They can be arrested, they can pay their fine, plead guilty, pay a fine and open up for business the next day," said Nassar.

That frustrates neighborhood leaders like Wini Tolson.

"The fact that legislation has not been passed to make this a felony, it doesn't say to me that they're really caring about whats going on with the little people out here," said Tolson.

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Houston lawmaker pushes for legalized video gambling

Another bill expected to be filed this week would dedicate video gambling proceeds to further reduce property taxes.


Turner's video gambling bill is HB897.


(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Property taxes would go down anyway....as property values drop wherever these places are located.

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Where I do not like gambling and I really do not mind it to much at all (I do not gamble except on Houston streets) I am with 27. I have seen what it does to the places in and around Lousiana and we really do not need it here.

It is just another way for the politicians to get our money. Not a dime will go to the programs that were promised it.

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Feb. 16, 2005, 12:09AM

Donors put their money on slots

Pro-gambling interests gave Texas candidates about $1.4 million


Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN - Like the gamblers they hope to attract, pro-slot machine interests are seeking a big payoff from $1.4 million in campaign donations they made in the past two years to statewide and legislative candidates.

A political action committee of Houston-based Maxxam Inc., owner of two racetracks where video slot machines might be allowed, was the largest single donor among pro-gambling contributors, giving $273,250, according to figures compiled by the Houston Chronicle.

J. Kent Friedman, general counsel of Maxxam, said the companies' PAC is interested in other issues besides gambling.

"Maxxam is a conglomerate with lots of different interests, so we have lots of different political interests as well," Friedman said.

After failing to win support in the last regular session or the 2004 special session on school finance, slot machines have resurfaced as a school-funding option.

Last week, Rep. Sylvester Turner filed the session's first gambling bill. House Bill 897 would allow slot machines, or video lottery terminals, at horse and dog tracks, at Indian reservations and at one location in each of nine areas around the state. Turner, D-Houston, said his bill would raise more than $1.2 billion a year for public schools.

House Speaker Tom Craddick has said he expects legislation authorizing a public vote on slot machines will reach the floor this session. House members who defeated a similar measure last year are gearing up to attack gambling legislation as a threat to the pocketbooks of Texas families.

Any new form of gambling will need a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to be placed on the ballot for voters to decide.

"I wouldn't scratch gambling off the agenda for this legislative session yet. It has a lot of money behind it, and we think the money will only get bigger," said Craig McDonald, executive director of Texans for Public Justice, a group that tracks campaign donations.

Maxxam and other track owners gave a total of $1.2 million. Maxxam joined other track owners last fall in forming Keep Texas Running, a coalition dedicated to legalizing video slots at racetracks. Track owners say they are losing ground to tracks in states that have slots.

Two Native American tribes, the Alabama-Coushatta in East Texas and the Tigua in El Paso, together donated $87,500. Associations representing horse and dog breeders gave $90,035, and representatives of video slot technology companies contributed $68,500. Donations from dozens of lobbyists who represent those interests were not included in the Chronicle's tally.

Maxxam owns Sam Houston Race Park in Houston and Valley Race Park in Harlingen.

Turner reported $4,000 in contributions from pro-slots interests. He received $1,000 from Maxxam PAC and $500 each from company Chairman Charles Hurwitz and Friedman.

Turner also received a donation from Big City Capital, a limited liability company based in Nevada. The company would like to see slot machines legalized in Texas, said Reggie Bashur, a lobbyist for Big City.

Big City Capital gave a total of $150,000 to various legislators and statewide officials.

A previous opponent of slot machines, Turner said he filed the bill and a related constitutional amendment because of the needs of Texas children. Both were sent to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Tina Benkiser, head of the Republican Party of Texas, issued a statement last week calling slots "a corrupt idea from a Democrat lawmaker."

Despite the Texas GOP's opposition to slot machines, large donations were made to the state's Republican leadership.

Maxxam PAC gave $50,000 to Gov. Rick Perry and $80,000 to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Republican and Democratic senators and representatives also received contributions.

Stars Over Texas, a PAC formed by House Republican leaders to support targeted legislative races, received $15,000 from the Maxxam PAC and $50,000 from Big City Capital.


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Feb. 20, 2005, 9:56AM

Poll: More side with Robin Hood plan

House favors a sales tax hike as the Legislature considers options in school financing


Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN - "Robin Hood" may be the bane of some of the state's wealthiest school districts, but a majority of Texans agree with the financing system that requires property-rich districts to share their money with property-poor districts, according to a new poll.


The 58 percent support for Robin Hood is the highest recorded by The Scripps Howard Texas Poll since the question was asked in the fall of 2002, and was an 8 percentage point increase since last October.

Thirty-six percent disagreed with the wealth-sharing, and 6 percent said they didn't know.

The support for school funding equity was good news for Wayne Pierce, executive director of the Texas Equity Center, a coalition of mid- to low-wealth districts.

"I think people began to realize that Robin Hood benefited the vast majority of Texas children. It was a fair, simple way of taking the resources where they are in abundance and moving them where children are in abundance," Pierce said.

He said about 88 percent of the state's 4.3 million schoolchildren benefit from Robin Hood.

Eighty percent of Texans said the state should provide more money to public schools. Fifteen percent disagreed and 5 percent said they didn't know.

Finding a new system

The Legislature is working to replace the school finance system with a different funding mechanism that relies less on local property taxes. Lawmakers are considering a variety of ways to pay for a property-tax cut, including new business taxes, higher sales taxes, a cigarette tax hike and video slot machines.

Fifty-four percent of poll respondents said their property taxes are too high while 44 percent said they are just about right. One percent said property levies are too low and 1 percent had no opinion.

Legalizing state-taxed video lottery terminals at horse and dog tracks to help fund schools was supported by 68 percent and opposed by 28 percent with 4 percent having no answer. The support for the video slot machines was down slightly from 72 percent last fall.

Support for gambling

Sixty percent said they would support casino gambling if the revenue helped fund public schools and 37 percent were opposed. Three percent said they didn't know.

The telephone survey of 1,000 Texans from Jan. 27 through Feb. 14 showed high support for raising the cigarette tax by $1 per pack. Sixty-five percent favored, 33 percent opposed and 2 percent had no opinion.

There was less enthusiasm for increasing the state sales tax as part of a school finance plan. Thirty-six percent favored that approach but 56 percent were opposed. Six percent said their answer would depend on how much the tax was hiked, and 2 percent said they didn't know.

House Speaker Tom Craddick said most representatives support increasing the sales tax to buy down the property tax. He said he didn't know if there is enough support in the House to pass any new gambling measure.

The poll also asked about a state income tax. Forty-four percent favor an income tax if it reduced property taxes and the revenue was used to pay for public schools. Forty-nine percent oppose an income tax and 7 percent don't know.

Margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 3 percentage points.


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I don't know. Moody Gardens, Schlitterbahn, cruise ships, and casinos would give children and adults something to come down for. Believe it or not some people do actually come for the beach, and get in the water (though I haven't been in for years). You should see it around here during Memorial Day weekend, everyones in the gulf.


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