Whatever else I may think of the gambling industry, I have to admire their ability to get stories in the paper about their efforts to expand in Texas, even if there's really nothing new to report.
Battle lines already are being drawn in the 2007 Legislature as gambling interests make a renewed push for casinos. The opposition is as ardent as ever and this time has the advantage of Texas' $14.3 billion budget surplus, making it tough to argue for creating a new revenue source, especially one so controversial.
"I think it is a difficult proposition," Republican Gov. Rick Perry said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. In 2004, he suggested legalizing video slot machines at race tracks to help pay for public schools, only to see his proposal shot down by social conservatives in the Legislature.
"I'm not telling you it's not possible, by any sense of the imagination," Perry said. "And I have had enough conversations with enough proponents to know that they're going to continue to work towards it."
Just one comment to make here:
The Texas Gaming Association, made up of prominent gambling industry figures, argues that there's already gambling in Texas in the form of the state lottery and race tracks and that most Texans live within an hour and a half of a neighboring state or country, meaning casinos are within easy reach.
"Texans are already doing it. It's already happening. It's already here," said Chris Shields, the gaming association's lobbyist.
When you hear that most vehicles in the parking lots of neighboring states' casinos display Texas license plates, that's no joke, Shields said, adding, "Texans are already paying for the public schools and the highways in Louisiana."
Besides, the gambling industry hasn't poured millions of dollars into its efforts to expand gambling here because it cares about Texas' public school system. It's because they stand to make billions if and when they finally get their way. Whether you consider that a factor or not, it's what this is all about. Put everything the gambling industry says about the benefits of Texas casinos and whatnot through that filter, and go from there.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 22, 2007 to Budget ballyhoo