The Houston Press notes that two bills have been filed in the Texas Legislature that would expand opportunities for Texans to legally gamble. Both pieces of legislation face an uphill battle in the conservative Lone Star state.
Indian reservation casinos
The Houston Press reports that the Alabama-Coushatta tribe operated a casino for nine months more than a decade ago, garnering $1 million a month in revenues, before being shut down by lobbyists for gaming interests in neighboring states citing federal law that it was claimed prohibited such establishments. Since then the Alabama-Coushatta, like many Indian tribes, have been subsisting on government handouts. The legislation currently pending would establish a Texas Gaming Commission and would allow the tribe to re-establish its casino, garnering revenues for its benefit. The legislation would depend on the federal law that closed the original casino to change as well.
Race track video lotteries
A second piece of legislation has been introduced, according to the Houston Press, that would allow race tracks in Texas, where betting on horses is legal, to also operate video lottery facilities.
Arguments for expanding gambling in Texas
The Houston Press story notes that some familiar arguments are being used to support the legislation that would expand gambling in Texas It will expand economic opportunity and create jobs, especially on the impoverished Alabama-Coushatta reservation. Taxation on gambling income would flow into Texas state coffers, paying for, among other things, education programs. Texas who like to gamble are going to neighboring states, such as Louisiana, where casinos are legal and are spending their money out of state. Prohibiting gambling in Texas smacks of nanny-stateism and goes against individual freedom.
Arguments against gambling in Texas
Kevin D. Williamson, writing for the National Review, takes a somewhat philosophical view against expanding gambling in Texas. He states, "The Texas legislature may make gambling legal, but it has no power to make it respectable." He compares legalizing and taxing gambling to legalizing and taxing prostitution and hard drugs. The Houston Press story also notes that there is a strong religious opposition to expanding gambling in Texas.
Gambling bills unlikely to pass
Pokerati, a gaming news site, suggests that there is little chance that either bill will pass the Texas legislature. It would have to get two-thirds of the vote in both the Texas House and Senate and then be approved as a constitutional amendment by Texas voters in the next general election. Previous efforts have fallen short and there is no reason to suspect that this effort will not fail as well.
Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
- Politics & Government
- Gaming & Lottery
- Texas Legislature