April 25, 2009
The Mayorals and gambling

What the Mayoral hopefuls think about expanded gambling in Texas, in particular for the Houston area, is an interesting question, but I'm not sure it's a relevant one.

Three candidates for Houston mayor bobbed and weaved today as they were asked about government issues during a video-taping of this weekend's Red, White & Blue program on KUHT Channel 8.

Republican Gary Polland, who co-hosts with Democrat David Jones, mentioned that the legislature is considering a bill allowing local government to conduct elections on whether to have legalized gambling in their areas, beyond what the state has now. If the bill passes, should Houston, which once was home to a football team called the Gamblers, have more gambling, especially now that cities are scrambling for new revenue sources?

Councilman Peter Brown: "I think we ought to look at term limits (instead)."

City Controller Annise Parker: "I don't know about gambling necessarily in Houston . . . I have long thought since Ike that it would be of great benefit to Galveston to be the first city in Texas to have casino gambling."

(Of course, Galveston did have casino gambling, legal or not, through the 1950s).

Lawyer Gene Locke: "To me the operative word is that we should have a local referendum . . . I'm a big proponent of letting the people decide."

Maybe I've missed something, but the only election I'm sure will accompany an expansion of gambling bill would be a state constitutional amendment referendum. I've looked through my archives and don't recall seeing anything about local option elections. There are plenty of gambling-related bills out there, so it's entirely possible that one or more of them have such provisions, I just can't say I've seen them. I think if anything gets through, it's likely to be one big omnibus bill that the casino and racetrack interests can both agree on. Such a bill is still in flux and may never reach the House floor, but that's what's out there. I'm wondering if this is what Polland had in mind, or if he was referring to a different bill.

In any event, this post was worth linking to for this bit of poignancy:

Candidate Roy Morales was not invited to the taping because, the hosts said, the studio can only accommodate three guests at a time.

Poor Roy. Poor, poor Roy.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 25, 2009 to Election 2009

Councilman Peter Brown: "I think we ought to look at term limits (instead)."

It's possible he didn't hear the question but then does it matter? No one really expects him to win. Just pull votes from Annise Parker.

"City Controller Annise Parker: "I don't know about gambling necessarily in Houston . . . I have long thought since Ike that it would be of great benefit to Galveston to be the first city in Texas to have casino gambling.""

Long thought? Ike wasn't that long ago. More than likely she meant since Tillman Ferttita suggested it. Long ago. Anything for a campaign contribution I guess. Although he apparently is backing Gene Locke.

"Poor Roy. Poor, poor Roy."

Be careful. Not everyone really likes Peter Brown or Annise Parker or Gene Locke and may decide, given how much they've shot the bird at everyone to shoot the bird back by voting for him.

And Galveston was the first and only, so far, city to have "legal" casino gambling. It was "offshore" so to speak at the back of the Balinese Room and the "legal" part of course was always a matter of contentious debate. It didn't matter whether it was or was not. The local authorities of course turned their heads to it and to the question which revolved around the matter of it being "offshore" instead of "onshore" but of course the Mafia was involved and so it was easier to get everyone to turn their heads than to take the matter to court.

The state finally prevailed by having Texas Rangers sit in the front all day and all night which intimidated everyone. They had tried to raid it a couple of times but by the time they got back to the back, all they found was an empty room. All the gaming tables having "disappeared" into the floor. So they decided intimidation might work. And it did. And that was the end of the casino in the back. And the beginning of the end of the Balinese Room.

Even with the Mafia connection, which perhaps added to the "lure" of the casino which was openly advertised by the Maceos, the Balinese Room attracted the "creme de la creme" of society. Most of whom could be seen in the back at the gaming tables. Along with the occasional Hollywood star who was performing there. And occasionally along with mayors and sheriffs and a couple of assorted state and national politicians.

I remember my parents talking about it - those were the days apparently. WWII had ended, life was good, and people wanted to enjoy themselves and did!

It would be nice to see the old Galveston return.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on April 25, 2009 12:21 PM

The sooner gambling becomes
legalized the better. Fewer robberies to be committed because the establishments will have legal recourse against violent gangsters
looking for illegal gamerooms
for money. operators and customers would not fear getting in trouble.

Posted by: Tony John on April 27, 2009 9:58 PM
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