Local law makers say expanded gambling not likely in Texas - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/18/10

Local law makers say expanded gambling not likely in Texas

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - As state law makers look to fill a multi-million dollar gap in the state budget, some say it's time to take a chance on expanded gambling. So, would our local legislators roll the dice?

Newly elected representative Charles Perry says he's not in favor. He says more gambling would not bring the money that's needed right away, and he feels the shortfall will get better with the economy.

"I don't know where my constituents sit on this. I believe I know. I think they're smart enough to make good decisions with proper facts, and the facts are, as I understand them, that you would see no additional revenue for years," Perry said. 

The state's looking at up to an $18-million shortfall, mostly due to poor sales tax revenue. The deficit is the estimated difference between the money we have and the money we need to keep services where they are now.

House Speaker Joe Straus says the problem needs to be fixed without raising taxes, and that's what brought up the gambling issue again. Right now, folks can bet on horses, bingo, and the Lottery.

Senator Robert Duncan says if folks look at the past, gambling isn't the answer to the current problem. "You can look at the Lottery; everyone claimed that the Lottery would bring us into the next era of public education. While the Lottery does produce some good revenue, it certainly doesn't support education in any significant way. I'm not convinced that any sort of gambling will improve the state's budget problem," Duncan said. 

To legalize gambling, Texas would have to change the state constitution.  That would means a two-thirds vote in favor by law makers, and then the voters would decide.

Duncan says he's seen the push for more gambling come up every time there is a budget issue during his time in office. He says he doesn't think there's enough support for it to pass. 

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