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Effort to expand Texas gambling begins today

24 February 2009

AUSTIN, Texas -- As reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "The session's first major attempt to expand gambling in Texas is expected today with legislation that would permit Las Vegas-style casino complexes in major cities, legalize slot machines at Lone Star Park and other racetracks and allow the state's three Indian tribes to run gaming enterprises, according to legislative aides and a leading gaming advocate.

"Tarrant County would be in line for one of the nine urban casinos under a bipartisan bill to be introduced by state Sens. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and John Carona, R-Dallas, and Reps. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, and Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, according to Jeremy Warren, a spokesman for Ellis.

"The proposal — in the form of a state constitutional amendment that would ultimately require approval by Texas voters — would also authorize two casinos each in Dallas and Harris counties, one in Bexar County and one in Travis County. Two others would be on Gulf Coast barrier islands, such as Galveston or South Padre Island.

"The measure would also let a proposed state gaming commission allow three other casinos for smaller urban areas. Backers envision the 'destination casinos' as lavish billion-dollar complexes of 60 to 100 acres, encompassing luxury hotels, theaters, shopping and other amenities such as golf courses..."

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