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Cameron County looks to state for gaming changes

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Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 8:24 am

BROWNSVILLE — As it develops its legislative agenda, Cameron County is reviewing options that could be available to further regulate eight-liner gaming operations.

The start of Texas’ 83rd Legislature nears, with the first day of the session on Jan. 8 at noon.

The Cameron Commissioners Court recently discussed its legislative agenda, with the subject of gaming included. Members of the court noted that with taxes of about $1,000 for each of the 8,800 eight-liner machines, or ‘maquinitas’ as they are commonly known, would go a long way toward meeting the county’s budgetary needs.

At present, the county taxes each machine on a sliding scale of $15 for each machine during the first quarter of the year; $11.25 for the second quarter; $7.50 for the third quarter and $3.75 for the fourth quarter.

The county also charge a $200 annual license fee for arcades that have up to 50; $400 for arcades with 51 to 200 machines, and $500 for arcades with 201 or more machines.

In addition, the state assesses a $60-per-machine tax, in addition to requiring other permitting and licensing fees.

County Judge Carlos H. Cascos raised the issue to the Commissioners Court, expounding on the possible need to increase the tax, noting that several eight-liner gaming operations had been shut down by the county fire marshal along with building and health code inspectors earlier this year for various issues, including noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It is a problem,” Cascos said.

The legislative agenda could also include the subject of increasing vehicle registration fees. Cameron County assesses a fee of slightly more than $75. It was pointed out at the meeting that Mesa, Ariz. charges $946, but some states charge more in lieu of property or sales taxes.

The court also discussed possible support for legislation to increase the sales tax so that a portion could be earmarked for counties’ economic development and other projects.

The formulation of the legislative agenda continues.

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