Struggling Texas Governments Pay Bills With Illegal Gaming Income


A half-dozen rural counties and municipalities in south Texas have earned millions of dollars from recently enacted fees levied on eight-liner gaming machines, which look and play like slot machines, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Duval County, for example, has collected just under $600,000, or nearly 9 percent of its $7 million yearly budget. It could be the local government success story of the year: Confronted with a struggling economy, a county perhaps best known for its rich history of graft and political corruption uncover a lucrative new source of revenue.

But there’s a small catch. “Of course the machines are illegal, as I understand it,” said Jo Ann Ehmann, the part-time bookkeeper for the tiny city of Gregory. Just northeast of Corpus Christi, Gregory — population 2,000 — has collected about $800,000 in the 18 months since it started enforcing its $1,000-per-machine game room ordinance. The city’s annual budget is about $1 million. Texas’ strict anti-gambling laws forbid them from paying out cash prizes. So most purport to offer winnings such as rolls of paper towels, electronics and stuffed animals.

Comments are closed.


You have Free articles left this month.

Want access to all our reporting? Subscribe for unlimited access or login.