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And in case you were wondering about gambling

And to complete this impromptu threeparter about the state’s budget situation, we ask the question “What about gambling?”

Lawmakers had been warned to expect a shortfall of at least $11 billion in the next two-year budget period. But Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, on Tuesday put the gap at $18 billion — and said lawmakers should consider casino gambling as one way to fill the hole.

[…]

The expansion of gambling would require a constitutional amendment, Pitts said. That means a two-thirds vote of lawmakers and voter approval on a statewide ballot.

Casino gambling could bring in $1 billion in the next two-year budget period and $4 billion annually in the future, he said.

“I’m going to look at every revenue enhancer that we can get,” Pitts said, adding that Texans now travel to other states to gamble “and we need to grab that money.”

While I agree there’s revenue to be had by these means, I remain skeptical of pretty much any actual number that gets put out to quantify it. I’m particularly dubious of the $1 billion claim for the next biennium, especially if we’re talking casino gambling. Assuming a joint resolution passes, and it gets ratified by the voters, there would still be the need for local option elections in places like Galveston where any proposed casino would be situated. By the time you get past that, it’s already May of 2012, and you haven’t even started construction yet. I suppose this could be an opening for the slot-machines-at-racetracks crowd, since those could be in place within days of the November constitutional amendment vote. We’ll see if anyone picks up on that argument when the session opens. Just remember that there’s still plenty of opposition to expanded gambling out there, so even getting to the first step is not guaranteed.

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6 Comments

  1. […] would be implemented it would be several years before we’d start seeing any money from it. As Kuff points out. I’m particularly dubious of the $1 billion claim for the next biennium, especially if we’re […]

  2. Brent B says:

    Gambling is the chicken-shit way to raise revenue. Lawmakers will do anything to avoid the hard choices of raising taxes or cutting spending.

  3. John says:

    Gambling is a no brainer way to raise revenue. yes it will take a while to get casinos etc going, but I am sure some of the money could start coming (along with construction etc). Why not do casinos when you see $1B going to LA every yr? Yes lawmakers need to cut and raise but also finding other sources of income is logical. I think gambling is legal in 42 or so states, bring it on and tax the hell out of it.

  4. Kirston says:

    Who is going to pay for all the external costs that come along with gambling like higher crime, debt relief, and therapy for addicts? Is it worth it for Texas to embrace such an obvious vice while at at the same time discouraging other vice businesses like strip clubs, brothels, and regular old bars? A large portion of the state is alcohol-dry and we want to legalize gambling? Perhaps we should revamp TABC and get rid of all the cronyism in that organization first.

    State-wide, no. If some municipality has a region-specific gambling plan, then let them implement it, but they need to also have plans to deal with the problems that come along with legalized gambling and not just let all those people fall by the way-side.

  5. […] but it’s an argument I understand and respect, as long as it’s not making any dubious promises about how much revenue we can expect from it. Rick Casey has […]

  6. […] why expanded gambling will have a tough road ahead in the Lege next year, even as budget writers openly speculate about it, and concludes it won’t happen. I think the situation is more fluid than he gives it […]