Lone Star slots
Lone Star slots
With support from the governor's office, VLTs are a step closer to realityTexas Gov. Rick Perry announced in April that a comprehensive plan to finance education includes revenue from video lottery terminals at the state's racetracks. He plans to call a special session of the Legislature to vote on the issue; some reports indicate the session could be called by later this spring.
Because a constitutional amendment would be required, the proposal needs to pass by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, and then would go to a vote of the people. Previous attempts to pass VLT legislation have failed, but some industry participants think that the chances for passage are better than ever right now.
According to a Texas poll released in March, 64 percent of those surveyed approved of VLTs at racetracks as a means of raising revenue for education.
Racetracks in Texas face stiff competition from tracks in neighboring states that already have gaming machines of some kind-Louisiana and New Mexico have slot machines, Arkansas has "instant racing" machines, and Oklahoma has approved electronic bingo games. The revenue from the machines has allowed tracks in those states to increase purses and attract better horses.
Should the VLT measure move forward, the Texas Lottery would run the machines. "We've been acting as a resource for months now looking at the possibility of video lottery becoming a part of a special legislative session oriented around school finance," said Executive Director Reagan Greer.
Greer noted that the lottery has been investigating VLTs for some time at the request of the state's political leaders. "The good news is that we're not reinventing the wheel here; obviously other states have been embracing this for a while. We're going to be ready at the lottery, working with members of the Legislature on legislation and revenue estimates to be able to move forward quickly if they do embrace the idea and it passes."