Casinos in Houston? Texas lawmaker wants to legalize gambling for hurricane relief

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A Texas lawmaker wants to legalize casino gambling in some Texas counties and use some of the proceeds to provide relief to residents affected by future hurricanes and other storms.

Texas state Rep. Joe Deshotel, D–Beaumont, filed the bill in December that would guarantee casino licenses in Harris, Galveston, Jefferson, Nueces and Bexar counties.

Three other licenses would be allotted for other counties along the state’s Gulf Coast, according to the bill.

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The bill aims to place an 18 percent tax on casino revenue, about half of which would be allocated into the catastrophe reserve trust fund.

The bill also creates what Deshotel is calling the catastrophic flooding assistance trust fund, which is where the rest of the taxed revenue would wind up.

That fund would not be subject to the state’s budget bill, but legislators would be able to put state money into the fund if it wanted to do so.

Both funds could be used by the Texas Division of Emergency Management to provide emergency relief to flood or wind-damage victims of hurricanes and other severe storms throughout the state.

Even if the bill passes through the Texas Legislature and is signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas voters will have a say in whether or not casino gambling will be allowed.

Casino gambling is currently barred by the Texas Constitution. Deshotel also filed a separate resolution asking for a constitutional amendment allowing the bill to take effect if passed.

That amendment, if approved by the legislature, would go to a statewide vote in November 2019.

Jay R. Jordan covers breaking news in the Houston area. Read him on our breaking news site,, and our subscriber site, | Follow him on Twitter at @JayRJordan | Email him at | Text CHRON to 77453 to receive breaking news alerts by text message

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Casinos in Houston? Texas lawmaker wants to legalize gambling for hurricane relief