Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Still never going to be casino gambling in Texas, and maybe no more lottery

First, a correction: in my post about the Astrodome last week, I mentioned that a potential Governor Greg Abbott would never sign legislation supporting gambling in Texas. Specifically I wrote the following...

As for the Dome being converted into a hotel/casino... that will NEVER happen as long as Talibaptist Republicans rule in the Lege.  And a Governor Greg Abbott would veto it even if Hell caught a polar vortex blizzard and a bill did pass legalizing casino gambling in Texas.  How do I know this?  I point you back to this post about campaign finance reports, and this sentence from Wayne Slater's story within it.

Abbott’s largest out-of-state contribution was $50,000 from the Chickasaw Nation political committee, which operates casinos in Oklahoma.

What's incorrect is that the governor of Texas has no say whatsoever in any legislation that regards amending the Texas Constitution.  In order for there to be casinos in the Great State, there would have to be a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Texas Legislature approving the measure, after which the proposal becomes a ballot referendum for Texas voters.  The excerpt does beg another question, though:  what did the Chickasaws buy with their 50 large to Abbott?  A lobbyist?  Who does Abbott think he is, Michael Quinn Sullivan?

We know how Texans would vote on casino gambling if  they ever got the chance.  But they won't.  And just so everyone is clear, there is still no chance the Republicans in the Lege will approve anything that even sounds like gambling.  John Carona tried last session, and he lost his primary this year (to one of the men mentioned in the next excerpt).  Today in the TexTrib...

Five Republican nominees for seats in the Texas Senate voiced opposition Monday to a proposal that would allow a controversial new form of betting on horse races in Texas.

Paul Bettencourt of Houston, Konni Burton of Colleyville, Bob Hall of Edgewood, Don Huffines of Dallas and Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, urged the Texas Racing Commission to reject the commission’s proposed rules allowing historical racing, saying in a joint statement that it “would effectively authorize Las Vegas-style gaming in Texas.”

Go to the link above for an explanation of historical horse race betting.  I consider it as ridiculous a betting proposition as I do polling political races after the fact, but speaking as a horse player myself, it seems fairly innocuous. Since thoroughbred and quarter horse racing is already legal in Texas, what could possibly be the problem?  The message is clear: there will never be any slots at racetracks, no offtrack betting, no poker parlors, no nothing like that and certainly no blackjack or craps at resort hotels in the metros or along the Gulf coast.  It's Satan preying on the po' folk, and we need the GOP to save us from that (the party of less intrusive government and personal responsibility, after all).  The Trib again, having gotten granular polling data when the gambling measure got close last year, is cautious even in forecasting that an amendment would clear the voters.

But given the strength of the socially conservative wing of the Republican Party, coupled with the opposition of radical fiscal conservatives to gaming, a bet on gambling might still be a longshot. 

I grow weary of people saying the Dome should be a casino.  It's the hallmark of an extremely low information voter, one who probably casts a straight Republican ticket.  To be fair however, it's not just Republicans.  Speaking of poor people being preyed upon, one of the most liberal Democrats in the Texas House, Garnet Coleman and the Texas Lottery are in the news.

House Speaker Joe Straus on Thursday announced his appointments to the Legislative Committee to Review the Texas Lottery and Texas Lottery Commission, a new panel charged with studying the ramifications of ending the lottery, along with examining charitable bingo and how its revenue is distributed.

The appointees include three Harris County lawmakers, one of whom is a vocal lottery critic.

Houston Democrat Garnet Coleman has accused the lottery commission of a cozy relationship with the game operator and criticized how most players are poor. He will be joined by Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston; Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land; Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake and co-chair John Kuempel, R-Seguin.

More from the local news radio station.

“Lottery money is stagnant, we raised the same billion dollars in the early 1990s, nothing more per year,” the Houston Democrat tells KTRH News. “So in terms of the lottery being a solution for public education, its not.”

Sugar Land Republican Rick Miller has his own concerns.

“How effective is this? How much money is going to the school fund? What's the overhead for this administration?” Miller asks.

Coleman and others believe the lottery is just another form of gambling which preys on the poor.

“What the lottery has had to do is create more games that have a worse chance of winning, and get the people who play to play more and more,” he says.

Miller believes there is some truth to that.

“It is what might be considered a tax on the poor,” he says. “How they look at it and do they have the resources to participate, that is a question. But it is still a personal choice.”

I would have to say I would be shocked if the Lege let the sun go down on the state lottery.  A billion dollars -- it's actually more than two -- is a billion dollars, and there would still seemingly be the multi-state lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions, which presumably would not be affected here.  Even with Texas running a budget surplus now, $2.2 billion leaves a pretty large hole to be filled.  Which is why the Lege crawfished last year.

Sometimes it's about the money, and sometimes it's not.  And when it isn't, you can be almost certain it's about Jesus.  Specifically, Republican Jesus.


Unknown said...

The arrogance of Gov. Abbot was best noted in his recent comment that gaming isn't good for Texans so he won't support it. What ever happened to the principle that "government should only do for the people that which they can not do for themselves"? He offends my good senses making decisions for me based on the influence of his largest contributors who have obvious conflicts. He is afraid to let the people decide. The horse industry and its many employees are the losers to his continuing his well financed political agenda. Disgusting, blatant demagoguery.

Unknown said...

Please reply to home@grunnah.com