Could video lottery gambling be legalized in Texas?

Texas state senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa has filed legislation that would legalize video lottery games, a form of slot machine, in Texas.

Senator Hinojosa tells Action 4 News Texas is facing a large deficit and video gaming slot machines would add an extra boost to economy.

"We know by allowing slot machine at race tracks it will raise close to two billion dollars biennium", said Hinojosa.

Along with the extra revenue, the Senator says the proposed legislation will bring jobs.

"This type of legislation would create more than 77,000 new jobs in Texas", said Hinojosa.

Currently there are 13 licensed racetracks in the state of Texas, including two in the Valley.

Valley Race Park is located in Harlingen, and Tesoros Race Park is located in McAllen.

Tesoros is licensed, but construction is not yet complete.

Senator Hinojosa adds "This would have a very positive impact because people would come and shop in McAllen, they'll use our mall, restaurants, and hotels", said Hinojosa.

Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada opposes the legislation and says and if approved would only benefit the state and not individual cities.

Ahumada also adds cities would have to deal with any negative issues gambling may bring.

"Higher unemployment rate citizens from Brownsville will go to these sites and spend their money there instead of spending it in Brownsville, so it's going to hurt families it's going to hurt municipalities", said Ahumada.

Still, Senator Hinojosa says Texans are leaving the state to go and gamble in neighboring states like Nevada and Oklahoma, and this legislation, could keep Texans in Texas.

Action 4 News also spoke with Andrea Young, President and Chief Operating Officer of Valley Race Park in Harlingen and Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.

Young tells us quote, "Most Texans realize by now that it is foolish to be sending billions of gaming dollars to our neighboring states every year when that money can be kept here. If the legislature allows Texans to decide this issue we will have the opportunity to bring new economic development to South Texas, along with tens of thousands of new jobs that are heading to Louisiana and Oklahoma as quickly as our tax dollars. Harlingen, specifically stands to gain a great deal if we are successful this session. Valley Race Park has the potential to be a world class destination and race track when this proposal becomes reality", said Young.

The proposed legislation could extend the gaming machines to coastal communities like South Padre Island.

A hearing and public comment on this legislation will take place later this week.