January 22, 2007
Another story on casino gambling in Texas

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."

Pretty much the same as what we read a month ago. Will we see the same story next month, too?

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."

With all due respect to our neighbors to the east, holding up the Louisiana public school system as an example of what we could do with more gambling in Texas is maybe not the most effective argument ever crafted.

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

The big problem is that too many Democrats are signing on to gambling as the only way to ever get enough money for health and human services. Would someone please explain to them that their constituents would be net losers? Where's the push for an income tax as a fairer alternative?

Posted by: David Siegel on January 22, 2007 11:13 AM

i am for casino gambling in texas.true i can go east or north (okl) of all places and gamble but i live here and want to gamble my money where i live.now it is about dam time this comes about and these fools who dont want it dont have to go.now i myself is going to investagate who up on the hill(austin) is not for it and going to do my best to get them voted out.

Posted by: cj edworthy on January 29, 2007 3:31 PM