Monday, December 13, 2010

Raymond's resolution would allow cities to control Maquinas or do away with them altogether

Maquinitas! Hold on to your britches
December 13th From the Galveston Daily News: By Amanda Casanova

A resolution set to go before the 82nd Legislature in January could allow cities to vote on whether to legalize eight-liners that could pay out up to $1,000 or outlaw the game machines entirely. The joint resolution, authored by Rep. Richard Pena Raymond (D-Laredo), would authorize local elections at the county, precinct or city level to decide whether the video slot machines could be legally operated in the voting area.

While Texas law prohibits gambling, the video slot machines can be played under a “fuzzy animal exception,” where the rewards for the game are noncash items, such as toys and novelties, that cannot be more than 10 times the amount charged to play the game or $5, whichever is less.The prize is redeemed in a coupon.
If the resolution is approved, winners could take away around $500 to $1,000 at the machines, Raymond said.

“There are eight-liners that don’t follow the rules and are doing it under the table illegally,” Raymond said. “You have law enforcement spending time on that and prosecutors working those cases, and I think it’s just better to let community have local option elections.” If communities decide to outlaw the machines, then “you just won’t have them at all,” Raymond said. “My law would do away with all eight-liners then.”
Even those that are currently legal and pay out noncash prizes, he said.

Under Raymond’s proposal, a permit would be required for each eight-liner at a cost of $350. The city would get 70 percent of the machine’s revenue, while the state would receive 30 percent.
“It’s a way to provide some revenue without raising taxes,” Raymond said. “It’s the way we have wet and dry county elections for alcohol. I’ve taken that idea and put it to eight-liners. It’s one of those things that you’re able to bring it back to the people.”

The resolution will be introduced when the legislative session starts Jan. 11.
If it passes, voters could go to the polls in November to choose whether local option elections should be authorized to legalize or prohibit the machines.

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