March 08, 2007
Senate readies gambling expansion bills

Is it time for the Biennial Push For Expanded Legalized Gambling again? Yes, I suppose it is.

Sens. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and John Carona, R-Dallas, on today will tout a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize resort casinos in Texas and allow video lottery terminals -- VLTs, or slot machines -- at existing racetracks.

An estimated $3.5 billion to $4 billion would be generated annually, with plans for $1 billion of that to be dedicated to TEXAS Grants and other higher education financial aid programs, according to Ellis' office.

Ellis and Carona will discuss details of Senate Joint Resolution 45 and Senate Bill 1359 at a news conference today. The proposed amendment would require approval of two-thirds of the Legislature before going on a statewide ballot for consideration.

Although the number of casinos could change, the proposal would allow seven in urban areas, two on islands in the Gulf and three whose location would be determined by a new Texas Gaming Commission. It would allow VLTs at eight racetracks, five horse tracks and three dog tracks.

You all know how I feel about this. The one thing I don't know for sure is how I'll vote if this thing ever does make it to a ballot. I guess I'm leaning towards No since I'm hoping I won't have to make that decision, but there still is a part of me (the There's One Born Every Minute part of me, most likely) that thinks that maybe this won't be another overpromised/underdelivered "solution" for Texas. We'll just have to see.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 08, 2007 to That's our Lege

I can't believe that Rodney Ellis keeps pushing gambling. He should be sensitive to the effect this will have on his poorest constituents -- the ones who can't afford the bus to Louisiana every weekend, but who would be sure to drop more than they can afford in the slots in a downtown casino. Plus, dedicated the money to TEXAS grants will make everyone assume the problem of higher-education affordability has been fixed. Look how many people wonder why they are still paying school property taxes, when the Lottery was supposed to pay for schools.

Posted by: David Siegel on March 8, 2007 6:00 PM