Texas VLT Push Stonewalled at Last Minute

A last-ditch attempt to get video lottery terminals included in legislation that would reorganize the Texas Lottery Commission was unsuccessful May 26. With the Texas legislative session coming to an end, the VLT plan will have to wait for a special session or the 2007 legislative session.

The Brownsville Herald reported that early in the morning of May 26, Sen. Ken Armbrister proposed an amendment to the lottery bill that would have authorized VLTs for the cash-strapped state. Sen. Jane Lawson objected because of a Senate rule that required any debate to end a few hours earlier at midnight.

"It was a killer," Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, who supports VLTs, told the Herald. "Now we can stick a fork in it."

Flores has sponsored bills to authorize VLTs and casino-style gambling. The bills were heard in the House in March but never made it out of committee.

Flores said he plans to come back with the same proposals in the next session, whether that is in two years or in a special session that could be called if the House and Senate don't come to agreements on a tax bill before May 30, the newspaper reported.

Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa called for continued debate. He said the state and the pari-mutuel racing industry need the revenue.

"We need the money," Hinojosa said. "Our racetracks in the state of Texas are dying."

Texas offers horse and dog racing. Alternative gaming has widespread industry support and government support, but the concept continues to stall in the legislature. Officials have said VLT revenue make Thoroughbred purses at Lone Star Park, Retama Park, and Sam Houston Race Park among the highest in the country.