Gaming Lobby Has Already Poured Nearly $1 Million Into Push to Legalize Gambling in Texas

When gambling is outlawed, only outlaws will gamble.
The state legislature won't convene for another couple of weeks but, as we've noted previously, the biennial push to legalize gambling in Texas is already well underway. With that push comes the flood of money to grease the legislative machine.

Already, gambling interests have poured in nearly $1 million in advance of the 2013 legislative session, according to the San Antonio Express-News:

Texans for Public Justice, which tracks money in politics, found that gambling interests donated $1.6 million to Texas political action committees and candidates going into the 2010 elections.

TPJ, in a check of reports available for this year, found top gambling PACs from 2010 donated more than $904,000 this cycle. The total included only reports covering up until eight days before the election, so the total is sure to be higher.

According to Let Texans Decide, the Chickasaws and Choctaws, which have Oklahoma casino operations, have given Texas candidates five times as much as they gave Oklahoma candidates since 2008 -- more than $807,000 in Texas compared to nearly $152,000 in Oklahoma. The Chickasaws also have invested in a Grand Prairie track.

Let Texans Decide, backed by Penn National Gaming and the Sam Houston Race Track, is the group spearheading the push to legalize gambling. In recent weeks it's been dropping tidbits of news -- for example about "unchecked crime" at underground game rooms -- to bolster its central argument, which is that Texas is losing billions to surrounding states by continuing to bar gambling. Figures cited by the group predict that legalizing gambling would bring $8.5 billion in economic activity and $1 billion in additional tax revenue.

Those arguments, being trotted out for the umpteenth legislative session, are familiar. So are those in opposition: The revenue estimates are overblown, a repeat of the grand promises that came during the push to allow pari-mutuel betting at horse tracks; that relying on gambling as a revenue source is unconscionably regressive, since it generally attracts poor people; that gaming is a social ill that Texas shouldn't countenance.

The legislature has always sided with the opponents and shows no sign of changing track. Tommy Williams, a Republican state senator from the The Woodlands who chairs the Senate's Finance Committee, told the Express-News there was little chance that any new proposal will pass either chamber, particularly given the freshman class of legislators, who are very conservative. That won't be for lack of trying. Or money.

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If this writer ever took a basic journalism class and understood the concept of balanced journalism, he would have also taken a look at where the anti-gambling money is coming from.  Much of the anti-gambling money comes from interests in Louisiana and Oklahoma.  By coincidence, these are where casinos operate and where Texans gamble.  These casinos would lose out big time if gambling was legalized in Texas.  But I guess looking at both sides of a story is too much effort for the Observer.


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ScottsMerkin topcommenter

if these high and mighty's want to continue to bitch about how bad gambling is, then get rid of the fucking lottery, its the worst possible odds you can get in any type of gambling.


The Oklahoma folks  need only travel to Riverside / Industrial Blvd and see the shuttered beer and Liquor stores to understand what Gaming in Texas would mean to their vast entertainment complex's on the  their side  of the Red River .


Just pass this already.

If you drive to Winstar on any given day you'll quickly realize that almost every license plate in the giant parking lot is from Texas.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Keep on voting for right-wing republican assholes and this is the type of stupidity you'll get in return.


@WatchingSouthDetroit DO readers interested in informing themselves about that side of the story should see the documentary movie "Casino Jack" about the career of Bush-Cheney Administration and Texas Rep. Tom "the Hammer" Delay lawyer-lobbyer (lawbyer) Jack Abramoff.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz If this is the case Myrna, then how do you explain Gov. Edwards and the scandal surrounding the casinos licenses in Lousiana?

Quite frankly, there will be no casino gambling in Texas until and unless the Chickasaws and Choctaws will be able to build operations in Texas that are similar to the ones that they have in OK.

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