Horsemen rally in Austin to support slot machines

More than 1,000 supporters  of horse racing and greyhound racing including those from Sam Houston Race Park, Retama Park and Lone Star Park, rallied at the State Capitol in Austin on March 31 to support House Bill 2111, which would allow slot machines at licensed racetracks (horse, greyhound) and Indian Reservations in Texas.

Two other pieces of legislation, SJR 33 and HJR 111, were also spoken of. Those would allow a vote by the public to put slot machines on racetracks.

For these measures to pass, two-thirds of the Texas Legislature must approve, then voters would decided whether or not to approve a constitutional amendment.

Supporters say this would generate hundreds of millions of tax dollars annually and allow Texas racing to compete with Oklahoma and Louisiana racing, which host races that are rich with slot money.

Win For Texas released a report that 77,500 new permanent jobs would be created and that the $2.2 billion that Texans are spending on slots and gaming outside the state would be kept here.

Jon Hockenyos, president of TXP, an economic analysis and public policy consulting firm founded in Austin, said that that about $2.4 billion in gaming revenue (and $3.8 billion total) would appear in-state by the end of 2013. “This in turn would create $8.5 billion in total economic activity (and) $2.6 billion in earnings,” he said. “The economic benefits of implementing slots are well-distributed across the state, as Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston each stand to gain close to 20,000 permanent jobs, Austin and San Antonio will realize approximately 10,000, and the balance is distributed across the rest of Texas.”

Other supporters include Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, Rep. Beverly Woolley, R-Houston and musician Lyle Lovett.“Our state is no longer competitive with our surrounding states in terms of money we can generate here,” Lovett, a Texan, told KVUE news. “We’re looking for new non-tax sources of revenue and this is a significant source of non-tax revenue.”