Commentary

Voters should have say on gambling in Texas

JUDGE'S COMMENTS
Frank Summers Milam County Judge

One of the topics that appeared during this legislative session was gambling. If you log on to the Legislature On Line website and search for gambling, slot machines, horse racing or other wagering-related terms, a number of "hits" will pop-up on your screen.

The idea of gambling in the state as a source of revenue is not new. It has been brought up during the last five sessions in some form or another.

The continued interest in gambling got me thinking what goes on in other states. Is gambling seen as a boon or a curse to other states that allow gaming? Has it really lived up to its proponents' promises, or its critics' gloom and doom predictions. I uncovered some interesting information.

One criticism of gaming is that it does nothing more than take money away from local residents that would go toward other things. Fact is, in Louisiana approximately 53 percent of all gaming revenue comes from out of state, most from Texas. Gaming has resulted in an average of $18.2 million dollars per month being collected by the state and local governments. So, question is if gaming was legalized in Texas how much of this money would stay in the state?

Colorado allows "limited" gaming. Limited gaming is defined as Casino-style gambling that is "limited" to: $5 maximum wager, slot machines, live blackjack, and live poker, hours of 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek, tribal reservation lands in Southwest Colorado and 35 percent of a building's total space or 50 percent of a building floor.

Even "limited" gambling brings in a great deal of revenue for the state. Gambling has helped old mining towns survive. While creating jobs the new industry also brings economic development for the locals and revenue for the state.

In researching a number of states that allow gambling I learned that many states put the question before the people. The issue of gambling was put on the ballot and the voters passed it. This latest attempt in Texas would have put the issue on the ballot, and we the people would have made the decision.

However, those in Austin have decided again that they know better than the voters. The same voters that made the wise decision to elect them now do not have the ability to make a decision on gambling in their state.

My father once told me there are three things that people will always do if they want to and one of them was to gamble. Not everyone, but those that are going to are going to even if they have to drive out of state to do so. So why won't those in Austin allow the people to decide if we want to continue to send money out of state or try to keep some of it at home?

We currently have one of the worst forms of gambling in the state. The numbers game, or if you want to be politically correct, the "lottery."

We have legalized horseracing and dog racing in the state, but will not allow our tracks to compete by allowing them to diversify into video slots. Just seems like this is one of those issues that will never be decided by politicians. They are more interested in votes and fear the repercussion of voting for a gambling bill.

Personally, I feel that most of us would welcome the chance to stand up and say yes or no to an issue such as this. While the voter cannot vote on every single issue we do elect representatives to vote on these issues.

The issue of legalized gambling in Texas has been around for a long time. Maybe next session there will be representatives in Austin that will let the people decide if the jobs, economic development and state revenue is worth letting us decide.

fsummers@co.milam.tx.us


Click here for digital edition
2009-05-28 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


Click here to register for the 5 Kay!