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Texas Officials Examine Bingo Technology Changes

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    Bingo players in Texas could soon be able to skip the lines and buy games electronically.

    Texas bingo officials are considering permitting electronic card machine software that's used in other states.

    The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Monday that the change would make it easier for people to buy more cards, which would generate more revenue for state charities.

    Advocates for the change have asked the Texas Lottery Commission to allow new software for card minders, common hand-held devices. Bingo players would still go to a cashier to receive the device, but would be able to prepay for games. This would allow them to purchase cards with the device rather than return to the cashier for each new card.

    Supporters say software could be installed on the hand-held devices, which are already used in many bingo halls. Any winnings would still be paid out in cash.

    "We believe charities miss out on sales because of the cumbersome process," said Stephen Fenoglio, an Austin-based attorney for Texas charities. "It digitizes the transaction."

    Opponents fear the proposal would expand gambling in the state. They say the commission should not be the entity to make the statewide change.

    "You can't go down this path at all," said Rob Kohler, a consultant with the Austin-based Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which opposes increased gambling. "There is clear legislative history that shows this is (an issue) for the Texas Legislature, not the Texas Lottery Commission."

    The commission may consider the proposal at an Aug. 12 meeting in Austin.

    Fenoglio said that with commission approval, it would take at least six months to install the technology.