Legislators Begin Push to Legalize Gambling in Texas

Categories: Legislature

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We've officially known it was coming for a couple of months now, and we've assumed as much since forever, but yesterday marked the first official volley in the biennial battle to legalize gambling in Texas.

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, filed a resolution yesterday that proposes a constitutional amendment -- which would require approval by voters -- establishing a state gaming commission to oversee casinos that would be allowed on coastal barrier islands greater than 25 miles in length (Galveston, in other words), at horse and greyhound tracks, and in cities of 675,000 or more. She described a similar bill filed last session as a partial solution to Texas' massive budget shortfall.

Alvarado's is the first of a slew of bills that will be considered in the coming legislative session, if history is any guide, but it's not the official gambling push.

That will come from whatever legislation is backed by Let Texans Decide, the high profile, pro-gambling legalization group du jour. That bill hasn't yet been filed, said LTD spokesman Matt Lavigne, and it's still unclear at this point what the group will push for, whether it will be limited to slot machines at race tracks or full-fledged casinos. So far, the organization has limited itself to promoting studies showing the economic benefits of legalizing gambling and penning op-eds. In other words, the battle lines are still being drawn.


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36 comments
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

As far as the barrier islands at least 25 miles long, don't forget North and South Padre Island ...

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

The amendment route is the only way to get past the legislature. The myth is that if TX voters could get a choice, they would pick gambling. The real hope is get it in an off year election and only fans will take time to vote. No real grass roots desire exists to add gambling. Everyone knows at this point we will not have another Las Vegas or even Atlantic City. We will have a fairly depressing place filled with smokers and people feeding slots with quarters, probably in sweat gear. No Celine Dion or big name acts. No major chefs in restaurants and lots of lousy buffets. Senior citizens arriving by bus in late morning and leaving in early evening after 4 PM dinner buffets.

DOCensors
DOCensors

I have no problem legalizing gambling, but amending the state constitution to do so? That's retarded.

plfarmer
plfarmer

With the end of Glass-Steagall and the changing of the up-tick rule-it has become the same. Just a matter of definitions.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

There is only one reason that Chickasaw Nation bought LSP, to bring slots to the track.  Why else would they buy into a money losing operation that has some of the worst Thoroughbred purses around.  You may not like gambling and not want it here, but why should Texas send all that gambling money to LA. or OK?  Your are just shipping in state tourism dollars right to your neighbors.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

Alvarado's having a busy day huh? voters in Houston should be so proud, i'm sure sodas and casinos were top priorities this election year.

DMZ3
DMZ3

Ugh. How about not? It's legalized fraud and a tax on the poor, and makes the state dependent on cultivating gambling addiction to make up revenue shortfall. Let's keep it in Oklahoma and Louisiana where it belongs. I'm somewhat sympathetic to turning depressed Galveston into a special economic zone for gambling (think Macau in China) but God I hope they keep it out of the mainland and especially the major cities.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

How does one change one's avatar on this new gizmo?

richelle_robinson
richelle_robinson

This will only take money away from the poor and put it in the hands of the greedy.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

What do you mean, "... the battle lines are being drawn ..."?

More like, "How is this turkey is going to be carved up?"  The Casino Indians in Oklahoma are not going to let this slide by quietly; and, I hope a few lessons are learned from the debacle in Louisiana when those licenses were handed out.

Our legislature has refused to reform our property tax system to require disclosure of the sales price.  I believe that if this one item were done, a tremendous amount of property value would be released and available for taxation.  Couple this one item with removal of taxation on unrealized gains in property values and we would go a long way to balancing our state budget.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Good.  Next up should be pushing the bible thumpers out of the state.

kduble
kduble

... and Matagorda....

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@MikeWestEast national acts flock to a crappy indian casino in Oklahoma. You don't think a real casino in Dallas could draw them?

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

@MikeWestEast I think you might be on to the truth. But the money they lose will stay on this side of the border.And that is a plus .

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@DOCensors That is because there is a constitutional provision that prohibits gambling.  An amendment to the State Constitution was required in order to allow the horse and dog tracks.

CraigT42
CraigT42

@DMZ3  

It may not be to your liking but it is not fraud. For it to be fraud the casinos would have to lie to you about your chance of winning. They have no need to do so.  Everyone knows the odds favor the house yet Vegas rakes in billions anyhow. 

I also don't see how it is a tax on the poor, I am not aware of any casino that has welfare recipients as a target demographic.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

@richelle_robinson So the poor are somehow obligated to gamble? Logic fail. Plus the law can always dictate that the gambling revenues be used for something like our horrible education system or roads, which would benefit your poor poor people. As long as our pathetic state government representatives don't screw it up, that is.

timdickey
timdickey

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul TOTALLY true on sales price disclosure. Tens of millions of undervalued residential property in Old Preston Hollow and Bluffview. The Realtor/Real Estate lobby goes nuts when these bills are filed. 

WylieH
WylieH

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Agreed on sales price disclosure.  Commercial property owners frequently obtain MASSIVE (think 75%+) discounts off their proper tax burden as a result of chronic undervaluation (particularly in shady places like Dallas County).

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@oakclifftownie @MikeWestEast  

No, the money that they lose will go to the casino owners, just as it is currently.  The difference is that the State of Texas will get a slice of the pie.

Just remember, those big casinos in Vegas were not built by the winners ...

DMZ3
DMZ3

@CraigT42  Poor people tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on gambling than the rich, which leaves less money for everything else: food, rent, bills, clothes, etc. And since the impact on the poor is disproportionate to the impact on the rich, to use gambling as a means to fill a budget shortfall constitutes a regressive tax. A hundred bucks for some schmoe who thinks he's got a lucky streak might be a lot of money for him. Not so much for a person with a large annual income.

And okay, maybe it's not fraud. It's still toxic.

DOCensors
DOCensors

@DMZ3 @CraigT42 So what? Are you the parent of the poor? Stop being a paternalist asshole and let people make their own choices. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@DMZ3 @CraigT42 The lottery is the worst form of gambling around and the odds are far worse than any game a casino has.  So all of you on your high horse about gambling, keep your ass out of the 7-11 Powerball line.  

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