Texans are presented the option to place their bets on a bill that will decide whether or not to permit gambling in their state.
Online PR News – 05-March-2009 – – Texas February 25th--The bill to legalize gambling was lobbied Tuesday afternoon by Carona, (R) of Dallas, and Rodney Ellis, (D) of Houston, along with Representative Jose Menendez, (D) of San Antonio.
The bill is expected to open the flood gates for the use of slot machines at existing horse and greyhound racetracks, and allow gambling on Texas' three Indian reservations and the construction of up to 12 resort casinos scattered across the state. Two are programmed for Dallas, another two for the Houston area, one in Bexar County, another in Travis County and two more along the Gulf of Mexico.
"This is absolutely the right thing to do for Texas. Gaming is already here," said Sen. Carona. Like Carona, Senator Ellis explained "Texans are already gaming. They're going to continue to do so. I say let's regulate it. Let's tax it and let's use the money for public schools and highways and other needed programs”.
Gambling is already legal in 38 states in some form or another. However, Texans have to cross over to Mexico if they want to roll some dice or spin a roulette wheel. If this proposal passes it is going to have an economic impact of $50 billion/per year and increase tax revenue for the state every year $3 billion to $4.5 billion.
The bill states that $1 billion of revenue would go
towards education to funding college scholarships for up to 240,000 high-performing high school students, $1 billion toward transportation, road and highway and the rest will be spread out between other state projects.
In a recent telephone poll, 1000 Texans were asked whether they are pro or con on legalizing gambling in Texas. 70% answered that they were all for legalizing gambling.
“It will be great for us tourism, jobs and a bit of spunk back to this state won’t hurt anyone” said Patricia Worth.
Despite the enthusiasm voiced by some, not all Texans are optimistic.
Jenifer Gooding, a citizen of Dallas, said “I don’t want my children growing up in a city were gambling is legal, I am against this bill and everything it stands for”. Like Gooding, some Christian groups have also been working towards stopping this bill. “Gambling will corrupt our fragile society, think of all the other negative industries it would attract” said Father Gregory Simmons
Similar bills failed in past sessions.
Governor Rick Perry does not support gambling legislation such as this bill. "This isn't fun. People get hurt. They can lose a lot of money," said Rob Kohler who lobbies against similar legislation. A number of casinos are struggling in the economic downturn. Kohler worries Texas could end up losing, too. "Texas is better than that," he argued. The lawmakers betting on this session’s bill are hopeful. "If I were you I wouldn't bet on us not getting the votes," said Sen. Ellis. If lawmakers approve the bill, it still must go before voters for final approval.