Plenty of Folks Are Starting to Place, and Hedge, Their Bets on Casinos in Texas

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One week ago today, state Sen. John Carona introduced proposed legislation, S.J.R. No. 31, that would allow for at least 12 casinos scattered throughout the state -- seven "in different urban areas," two "located on islands in the Gulf of Mexico that are tourist destinations with at least 1,000 guest rooms" and "three or more additional licensed locations," to be specific. And so, for the last week, local pundits and prognosticators have been betting on where Dallas's casino will land -- near the proposed convention center hotel, on the soon-to-be-former Reunion Arena site, in Fair Park. Ante up.

But one week later, words of caution -- and warning -- from Louisiana, where such casino developers as Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc., own joints dependent upon gamblers from Dallas-Fort Worth. Says Pinnacle's 2007 annual report, the "principal market" for its 188-room, 1,115-slot machine, 30-table game Boomtown Bossier City is the DFW. But Pinnacle's finding that now's a bad time to build casinos, at least on that side of the border, having recently put on hold two other projects in Louisiana.

Notes the Associated Press, "Although the recession might increase the appeal of legalizing casinos in Texas, the downturn also is making it difficult for the industry. In some states -- excluding Louisiana thus far -- revenue is declining." Louisiana's worried, of course -- it could mean the loss of $1 billion a year for the state -- even as a Galveston paper this morning says, Don't bet on casinos this session.

But in Oklahoma, well, seems folks there are resigned to the inevitable.

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