Two high-profile senators are joining forces to propose a plan for legalizing casino gambling and sending some of the profits to help Texans pay for college tuition.
Republican Sen. John Carona of Dallas and Democratic Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston are to announce more details Thursday about their proposal to legalize a limited number of "destination resort casinos" across the state and video slot machines at race tracks.
Several bills already have been filed on the subject, and there have been backroom rumblings throughout this legislative session about a push to expand gambling.
Proponents argue that Texans are already spending their money on casinos in neighboring states. Carona and Ellis say they're not gamblers, themselves, and don't even buy lottery tickets. But they say something must be done to stop the flow of gambling money from the state.
Proponents of the measure say Texans already spend about $10 billion per year on gambling, some in other states, some illegally in Texas.
"Because we've been sensitive to protect neighborhoods and specifically limit the number of these in Texas, why not have the benefits of all Texans, or at least allow Texans to vote for it themselves," Carona said.
If the bill passes through the Capitol, it would make its way onto the November ballot. If voters were to pass the measure, local elections would have to be held in counties that would have to approve casino licenses.