NPT Capitol: Gaming interests struggle to find consensus
Gaming interests hit the capitol, Wednesday as House Licensing Chairman Ed Kuempel staged a joint hearing for a plethora of gaming related bills.
Kuempel’s plan was to hear all the bills and views on offer, the next step being to forge an omnibus bill with language agreed upon by all the major interests. Legislation was touted that would allow Racinos, Casinos, greyhound tracks and Indian tribes get a slice of the action.
But fissure lines were apparent between the various parties. The Kickapoo Indian tribe voiced concerns over being left behind if big casinos move into town and so want the right to open a Casino within 300 miles of their reservation. Horse breeders want to make sure they get a fair cut of any revenue slot machines bring to racetracks. State Rep. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, who has filed bills that would allow for big casinos, seemed frustrated by the lack of co-operation from the breeders. The breeders told NPT that the casino folks needed them more than they needed the casino folks.
“It’s the big boys who can’t get together. You saw at the back of the room (today, where lobbyists and speakers gathered), all the rich guys wanting everything instead of trying to let everyone have a piece of the whole,” said state Rep. Chente Quintanilla, D-El Paso, who sits on the Licensing committee.
Amidst the tension, the Tiguas kept their heads down. At the hearing, they spoke in favor of their own bills and promised to support all the others too. They have been working hard behind the scenes to make sure that racino and casino bills have language that cover them added in. Any omnibus bill that makes it out of committee is likely to have them covered.
For a full write-up check NPT tomorrow lunch time.