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Texas Senator Leads Push For Legalized Casinos

Group Pushes For Referendum To Amend State Constitution


Sen. Rodney EllisIronically, you can’t currently play Texas hold’em in a card room in Texas, but Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) is hoping he can change that by bringing legalized casinos to the Lone Star State.

Ellis has filed a bill for the 2013 legislative session that would put the measure on the November ballot and give voters the power to amend the state constitution to allow for casinos.

Though Texas legislators have been traditionally opposed to gambling measures, Ellis is hoping that the sluggish economy will help his bill receive bipartisan support.

“Clearly, we need the money,” Ellis bluntly said to the San Antonio Express-News.

Former Sen. John Montford, who helped Texas establish their state lottery, feels the same. He is now heading the Let Texans Decide coalition, which is pushing for casinos to make their way onto the November ballot.

“All we’re asking for is a referendum,” Montford said, according to The Magnolia Potpourri. “Speaking across Texas to different rotaries, I feel confident we will get over 60 percent of the population to approve the amendment. We hope members will consider allowing Texans to decide what’s best for them.”

The group estimates that state residents gamble away more than $2.5 billion each year at casinos in neighboring states such as New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana. According to the coalition, more than 75,000 jobs would be created if casinos were legalized, creating an $8.5 billion per year industry.

In order for Ellis to get his piece of legislation on the ballot, the measure would need to be approved by a two-third majority vote.

Tags: Texas