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Numerous US States Considers Video Slots Gaming

On June 7th, 2009, some states, including Ohio, Texas and Illinois, are considering video slot machines as part of the solution to address the state budget deficit and help the ailing horse racing industry. David Schwartz, the director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, said that when considering the budget, legislators seem to like gaming more.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, has proposed permitting video slot machines at horse racing tracks and the gaming issue is on the agenda for the June 15th, 2009 special session to tackle primarily with a nearly $1 billion budget deficit. The slots plan would raise an estimated $700 million and the money would go towards horse racing track improvements, prize purse and education.

Earlier this week, the New Hampshire Senate passed a legislation that will allow thirteen thousand video slot machines at three racing tracks. It would bring an estimated $185 million for license fees and gaming revenues in the next two years. The proposal now goes to the New Hampshire House, which has consistently dismissed video slots proposals in the past. Officials in the state of Ohio have also introduced a proposal that will allow two thousand video slot machines at each of the state's seven racing tracks.

By 2013, the estimated revenue would be $1.3 billion, but the plan needs the approval of the legislature. Members of the Ohio State Racing Commission stated that the slot machines would save the state's horse racing industry. Schwartz said that West Virginia has had slot machines for about fifteen years and has seen the benefits for the horse racing industry. He added that slot machines bring in more earnings for the track. But the financial crisis has made it tough for organizations to debut their gaming ventures.

A project to place one thousand slot machines in New York City fell through when the company was unable to raise the funds needed. The slot machines would have produced $250 million in revenue. Schwartz added that several proposed casino facilities in the state of Kansas also remain unfinished because of financial conditions.

Illinois legislators are currently considering a plan to permit 45,000 video slot machines at bars, restaurants, truck stops and social clubs all over the state. Illinois would tax slot revenues at twenty-five percent to thirty percent and raise $300 million to $750 million annually. Texas is also considering a proposal to permit slot machines at racing tracks. Stumbo stated that his proposal would not need any constitutional change and would not be subject to a referendum.


Sunday, 28 June 2009
Darren G. Strachan