Senator presents bill to legalize gambling in Texas

Published: Apr. 9, 2013 at 9:39 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 14, 2014 at 10:13 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A lawmaker in Texas is seeking to legalize gambling in the State of Texas. The bill, proposed by Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) would open up 21 casinos and create a state-wide gaming commission.

On Monday, Senator Carona said that big casinos, race tracks and Native American groups had agreed to support his constitutional amendment, giving the bill a big boost. Lubbock citizens, however, had mixed feelings about opening the door to gambling in the state.

"I don't like gambling so I would not support it," said Lubbock resident Dustyn Webb. "I think it's for ignorant people that just lose their money and it punishes the people that aren't educated."

Lubbock resident Bill Martinez feels that if people are going to gamble, Texas may as well keep the revenue in-state. "I hate to see our money go somewhere else. I would like to see it here for our tax purposes."

According to TXP, an Austin-based economic analysis firm, 41.6% of the gaming revenue for Louisiana in 2012 came from Texans. In Oklahoma, that number was 42.9% and in New Mexico it was 13.9%. The total amount of revenue spent by Texans on gambling in these 3 states equaled three billion dollars, dollars that Carona feels should stay in Texas.

His bill allots for 20% of all revenue to go to the state, so against 2012 numbers, Texas could see $600,000,000. In addition, application and owner fees would go to a Texas Casino and Slot Gaming fund and any extra revenue would be transferred to the General Revenue fund. Representative Charles Perry, however, is skeptical of the benefits for Texans.

"Currently, there is a constitutional amendment making its way through the legislative process that would allow for resort casinos and racetrack gambling. Looking at other states that have legalized gambling, the risk factors seem to outweigh any benefits and I oppose any measure that would have negative impacts on our economy," he said in a statement to KCBD.

Las Vegas style luxury casinos could be built in Tarrant, Dallas and Bexar Counties if the bill passes, with no more than two applications per county allowed. Local resident Ed Chatman feels it would help Lubbock's economy if that state built a casino in Lubbock County. "I think it would be great for our city. It would provide jobs, tax revenue and I think it has a good chance to pass."

If the bill passes with a two-thirds majority at the House and Senate, it will be brought before the voters this November where they will get the final say in the matter.

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