There's a New Push to Legalize Gambling In Texas. It Too Will Fail.

Categories: Biz, Politics

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Caravaggio
We're pretty sure this is exactly what Texas' pro-gambling lobby has in mind.
For a dozen years, John Montford was a powerful force in the Texas Senate. He subsequently did a stint as chancellor of the Texas Tech University System before moving on to the private sector, where he served as an executive at AT&T and GM. Now, he's found himself a new role as the public face of the renewed push for casinos in Texas.

Montford, who sponsored legislation establishing the Texas Lottery in the early '90s, gave an interview to the Texas Tribune about the case for legalized gambling.

His own interest, he told the Tribune, was piqued early this year when he returned home after his stint with GM.

"I got back to Texas, and this issue of expansion of gaming intrigued me because I drove by a few casinos on the way, and I got intrigued by what was going on," Montford said. "And, candidly, [I] was somewhat -- I don't want to say horrified -- but definitely shocked at the outflow of Texas money into Oklahoma in particular, spurred on by Oklahoma gaming interests. My hat's off to them. I think they've outsmarted us."

Montford wants to keep money inside the state that could be used for property tax relief, the development of water resources and education. The website for Let Texans Decide, the group Montford is representing, describes the potential benefits in great detail, predicting the creation of 75,000 jobs, $8.5 billion in economic activity and an extra billion in tax revenue.

Of course, Let Texans Decide isn't exactly a philanthropic organization. Montford describes his backers as "sophisticated corporations that want economic opportunity expanded to Texas." In other words, some combination of gaming companies, race track operators and affiliated interests. Nor is this the first time the idea has surfaced. All of 18 months ago, several legislators, with the support of the gaming industry, proposed gambling as a way to pad an emaciated budget without raising taxes.

Rob Kohler, a longtime gambling opponent who lobbies on behalf of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, thinks the current effort will fail just as its predecessors have. Despite proponents' claims, he doesn't think most residents support the effort and he thinks the proposal, which requires a joint House-Senate resolution to be put on the ballot, will be dead on arrival in the Legislature.

"There's a tremendous amount of new members coming into House, there are very conservative members moving into Senate," Kohler said. "The idea that somehow or another there's going to be a will in the House" is unrealistic.

But Let Texans Decide spokesman Mike Lavigne said this time is different. Previous efforts have been hampered by infighting between operators who want casinos and race track interests that want slots. Several major players in the gambling industry have also recently entered the state, with Penn Gaming buying a stake at Sam Houston Race Park, Pinnacle Entertainment acquiring part of Retama Park near San Antonio and the Chickasaw Nation's purchase of Lone Star Park.

"This time we have a group of experienced operators from around the country that have invested heavily in Texas and they're going to be united," Lavigne said.

What, exactly, a final proposal will look like will be up to legislators, but Let Texans Decide will certainly offer recommendations. So will Kohler, who's gearing up up for another fight. Not that the last one ever really stopped.

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7 comments
G_David
G_David

You can rationalize legalized gambling until you're blue in the face, but if you believe for one second it will help with "property tax relief, the development of water resources and education", you are a gullible moron. 

Tanto1
Tanto1

Has anybody looked at how much Louisiana gaming industry gives to the anti-gaming lobby in Texas? C'mon Jim, give us a little research. And-isn't it the Choctaw nation that purchased lone star park?

TexOHara
TexOHara

When one sees all the cars with Texas license plates at Winstar, Choctaw, and the Bossier City casinos, the idea to legalize slots in Texas should be a no-brainer.

JM64
JM64

I don't have any real interest in 'gaming', as the gambling interests euphemistically dub the practice, but I am heartily in favor of legalizing casino gambling in Texas. If one considers the millions of tax dollars that are given to Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico (lesser amounts to Nevada, etc.) each year, an effort to keep a large percentage of that money here is worthwhile. If we had legalized casinos here, and they were to feature Vegas style shows, I would periodically go to see the entertainment, possibly drop a few dollars at the tables...

 

Of course, the religious hypocrites oppose gambling, apparently having no care about the money the 'vice' siphons out of the state. As long as 'their state' doesn't encourage it, the Baptists, etc. are seemingly OK with gambling. This is much the same attitude with our patchwork of alcohol wet/dry areas, where the Christian influence is strong, alcohol sales are resisted mightily, local ministers rail against 'demon rum' and the evils that alcohol sales will bring upon the community. They completely disregard the fact that anyone who has the money can and will get their alcohol and bring it home to the 'dry' community, thus giving the tax revenue to other, more enlightened communities.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @JM64 How do you tell the difference between Episcopaleans and Baptists?

 

 

 

The Episcopaleans say hello to each other in the liquor store.

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