A resolution of the Jefferson County Commission passed earlier this week is to provide local voters with the opportunity to express their views on the potential of casino gambling in the state of Texas.
The resolution, which got votes “in favor” from Commissioners Brent Weaver and Eddie Arnold and County Judge Jeff Branick, could enhance the chances of new gambling legislation to be rolled out by a local lawmaker. It is set to place the issue on whether Jefferson County should give the green light to certain kinds of gambling in case it becomes legal in the state of Texas on the November ballot.
County Judge Branick, who was one of the county officials who gave their support to the resolution, explained that despite the fact that he is not a “big fan” of gambling, there are many people who travel to Louisiana in order to place a bet. According to him, Texas voters, and more specifically, the ones in Jefferson County, should be able to place bets without being forced to travel to another state to do that.
Jefferson County is one of the five counties which are specifically mentioned in a bill which has recently been reintroduced to the local legislature by State Representative Joe Deshotel. The proposed piece of legislation seeks to make certain types of gambling legal across the state and provide a number of establishments with gambling operating licenses. Under the bill, a portion of the gambling tax revenue which could be collected is set to be used for coastal counties funding.
House Bill 494 has not been assigned to a committee yet. In case that the Governor signs it, a constitutional provision would have to be placed for a vote so that gaming in the state of Texas is officially allowed.
Previous Version of the Bill Did Not Get Approval
The author and main sponsor of the bill has the proposed piece of legislation specifically mention Jefferson, Galveston and Nueces counties, with the 2019 version of the bill making sure that those counties would be given a portion of the possible gambling revenue because they are considered part of the most suffering ones as they are situated in close proximity to places where gambling is already legal.
The thing is that Texas legislators still seem to worry about bringing gambling-related harm and all the negative effects associated with gambling to the state. Representative Deshotel, however, explained that some Texas residents already suffer from the negative effects associated with gambling because it is allowed in neighboring states, but unfortunately, the state does not receive any of the revenue.
Only nine gambling operating licenses are set to be allowed under the provisions of the re-introduced bill, including three split among Harris and Bexar counties. Apart from that, Representative Deshotel’s bill specifies that some of those licenses must be awarded to facilities based on horse or greyhound racing.
A similar bill was introduced by Deshotel but it was not given approval in the previous legislative session. The previous version of the bill, however, suggested that the gambling revenue should be allocated to Texas’ general fund only.