Gambling Bills Knocking At Texas’ Door!

March 12, 2011 6:51 pm 41 comments


Remember back when the conservative voters of this state won a massive victory on 11.2.10, and we felt Texas deserved a conservative Speaker who would appoint committee chairs and members who would further the conservative agenda? For over three months the conservatives in Texas waged a battle against the choice of Rep. Joe Straus as Speaker of the Texas House because we knew that Joe Straus was no conservative.

Unfortunately, on Jan. 11, 2011, Joe Straus was chosen once again to be the Speaker of the House, but not before he was forced to spend millions of dollars to hire 16 consultants and “buy” votes from his fellow House members, as reported by TexasGOPVote.com

Straus’ gambling interest was one of the biggest concerns conservatives had with Straus as Speaker because of his long-standing business interests in gambling.  He and/or his family own Retama Park in Selma (near San Antonio), Laredo Downs, Valle de los Tesoros Park in McAllen, and Austin Jockey Club.

Texas Observer Andrew Wheat wrote on 4.8.10, “Texas House Speaker Joe Straus III’s family could earn tens of millions of dollars if lawmakers and voters agree to let racetracks install slot machines (VLT’s).”

Retama has been losing money for several seasons, and it is not hard to imagine that Straus desperately wants to keep his family out of bankruptcy.  It is also common knowledge that land has already been bought in Austin along FM 1625 at Texas Highway 45 and Old Lockhart Road to set up a racetrack called Longhorn Downs; Retama Entertainment Group (Straus’ family) is to manage it.

HOW GAMBLING SUPPORTERS PLAYED THEIR GAME

This is the way the gambling supporters played their “game.”  First, the gambling supporters contributed more than $134,051 to Straus’ campaign to help him once again get elected as Speaker.

Straus claimed that he would recuse himself from any gambling legislation, but there is no way that he could “recuse” himself from his close personal ties to the people he has done business with all his life.

Straus also knew that he could control the outcome of the gambling legislation if he carefully selected the people he appointed to the various House committees.

To make sure the bills received favorable votes, the gambling supporters gave handsome sums of money to Texas legislators for their campaigns – to both Democrats and Republicans – in an effort to make them feel obligated to the gambling industry.

Please see the three charts posted at the bottom of this report that contain information from the Texas Ethics Commission website.  Notice the large number of legislators who received gambling supporters’ campaign contributions.  Many of these Texas Legislators are either chairs or members of committees through which the gambling bills will pass. Here are the gambling contribution totals:

Texas Gaming Association PAC – $222,250.00

Texans for Economic Development — $538,500.00

Indian Reservations — $26,125.00

EMPTY RHETORIC ABOUT GAMBLING

Next, the gambling supporters found Texas Legislators who would carry the gambling expansion legislation, making sure that the bills contain all sorts of “comforting” statements about how controlled and legal such gambling operations would be and how huge numbers of  jobs would be created for Texans. (Similar “comforting” gambling bills have been passed in many other states, and the graft and corruption have always followed.)

One of these “comforting” statements is being bandied around right now by the gambling supporters:  “The expansion of gambling in Texas would create 77,500 permanent jobs in Texas.”  First of all, how is this possible when there are only 178,700 jobs in the gambling industry nationwide?

What kind of gambling jobs would these be?  The vast majority of employees would make less than $20,000 per year, possibly even lower than that because jobs in Texas usually pay less than the national average.

Furthermore, there is no incentive for gambling workers to move up; and there is plenty of data that suggests that people with low incomes wager more in total dollar amounts than people who make above $50,000 in income.  In other words, the poorly educated gambling workers with their meager salaries of less than $20,000 per year would tend to gamble their paychecks away.

(Data taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – 2010 – 2011 — http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos275.htm)

It is the billionaire owners of the casinos and the VLT’s (Video Lottery Terminals) who make all the money, and many of them live out of state.

FAILED PROMISES

The gambling supporters have promised glorious outcomes if they can only expand their operations – money for Higher Education, scholarships and loans for students, money for the state coffers to plug the budget holes, and other such vain promises that never seem to materialize.  Remember when Gov. Ann Richards promised that the lottery profits would be used for public education?

HERE COMES THE GAMBLING LEGISLATION — 2011

On March 3, 2011, bi-partisan legislation was filed to allow Texas voters to decide whether to allow slot machines (a.k.a., video lottery terminals/VLT’s, video lottery games, games of chance played on terminals that are electronically simulated) at existing horse and greyhound racetracks and Indian reservations and also full-fledged resort casinos.

FIRST PAIR OF IDENTICAL BILLS

*The percentage beside each Legislator’s name indicates the score given to that person by Young Conservatives of Texas.

Both the House and the Senate filed Joint Resolutions (HJR 111, SJR33) that would trigger the constitutional amendment elections to allow slots.

HJR 111 was authored by Rep. Beverly Woolley (R – Brenham – 68 %). To take effect, two-thirds of each house of the Legislature and a majority of voters would have to approve a constitutional amendment.

Speaker Straus chose the House committees, and he also chose the Pro Tempore.  Is it any coincidence that the person he chose to be the “vice-president” of the House is the person who is helping to carry the racetrack gambling bill – Rep. Beverly Woolley?

The identical companion bill, SJR 33, was co-authored by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D – McAllen – 19 %) and Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R – San Antonio – 37 %).  Sen. Hinojosa is a big recipient of campaign donations from the gambling lobby.

Here is the link to HJR111/SJR 33: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HJR111

SECOND PAIR OF IDENTICAL GAMBLING BILLS

HB 2111 was co-authored by Rep. Beverly Woolley and Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D -  El Paso – newly elected).  Rep. Gonzalez is also a big recipient of campaign contributions from the gambling lobby.

SB 1118 was co-authored by Sen. Chuy Hinojosa and Sen. Jeff Wentworth.

Both HB 2111 and SB 1118 lay out the details of the VLT proposal.

Here is the link to HB 2111/SB 1118:

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Companions.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB2111

OTHER GAMBLING EXPANSION BILLS

HJR 112, co-authored by Rep.  Jose Menendez (D  –  San Antonio – 16 %)  and Rep. Mike Hamilton (R – Mauriceville – 71 %), has also been filed; and it would require a constitutional amendment creating the Texas Gaming Commission to regulate casino games and slot machines by licensed operators and certain Indian tribes.  Both Menendez and Hamilton have received significant campaign dollars from the gambling industry.

Here is the link to HJR 112:

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Authors.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HJR112.

RESORT CASINO BILLS

Yet more gambling bills, SJR 34 and HJR 112, have been filed by Sen. Rodney Ellis (D – Houston – 4 %), Sen.  Eddie Lucio (D – San Benito – 16%),  and Rep. Jose Menendez (D – San Antonio – 16 %).  These identical bills would bring full resort casinos to Texas.  Both Ellis and Lucio have been the recipients of significant amounts of campaign contributions from the gambling lobby.

Link to SJR 34/HJR 112:

http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/82R/billtext/doc/SJ00034I.doc

NEXT STEP: LICENSING & ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES COMMITTEE

All of the House bills on gambling expansion will go to the Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee where Speaker Joe Straus “stacked the committee.”

Based on their past voting records and associations with Speaker Straus, the members with asterisks beside their names will more than likely support the expansion of gambling in Texas.

Note: In January 2009, the Crew of 11 (a.k.a., the ABC’s) made up of  Rep. Charlie Geren, Rep. Rob Eissler, Rep. Brian McCall, Rep. Burt Solomons, Rep. Jim Pitts, Rep. Tommy Merritt, Rep. Delwin Jones, Rep. Byron Cook, Rep. Jim Keffer, Rep. Joe Straus, and Rep. Edmund Kuempel met in secret to form a plan to oust then-Speaker, Tom Craddick…

The Crew of 11 decided that Joe Straus, a RINO (Republican-in-Name-Only), would make a better Speaker even though he had deep gambling interests, had voted to make it easier to perform third trimester abortions, supported homosexuals as foster parents, was co-author of a bill that would have allowed Planned Parenthood to control public school sex education, was co-author of a bill to allow embryonic stem cell research, and had been ranked low because of his voting record on conservative issues (68 % to 50 % ) by Eagle Forum, Heritage Alliance, Texas Right To Life, and Young Conservatives of Texas (2007).

Licensing & Administrative Procedures

*Mike Hamilton – R — Chair – 71 %

*Chente Quintanilla – D — Vice-Chair – 23 %

Seniority Appts.

*Joe Driver – 66 %

*Mike Hamilton – 71 %

*Senfronia Thompson – 13 %

Speaker Appts.

*Charlie Geren – 59 % (Crew of 11 who chose Straus as Speaker in 81st Legislative Session, close associate of Speaker Straus)

*Roland Gutierrez – 16 %

*Patricia Harless – 21 %

*John Kuempel – new this session (His father – Crew of 11 — strong supporter of gambling legislation)

*Jose Menendez – 16 %

The gambling bills will undoubtedly emerge from the Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee, and Speaker Straus will probably make sure that they are given high-priority numbers (from HB 2 – 15).

NEXT STOP, CALENDARS COMMITTEE

Next, the gambling bills will go to the Calendars Committee where Rep. Todd Hunter (R – Corpus Christi  — 68 % ) is the chair.  Rep. Hunter has been the recipient of gambling donations and wants a casino to be built in Corpus Christi which is in his district.

Rep. Hunter’s reward for his close association with Speaker Straus was to be placed on the Redistricting Committee which is considered to be a very powerful and important committee this session. As stated in the Austin American-Statesman:

Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi. Four years ago, Hunter wasn’t even in the House. Now this close Straus ally is the Calendars chairman…One other note: Notice how many members of the Straus inner circle are on the Redistricting Committee. Solomons, Hunter, Keffer, Branch, Geren, Eissler. The speaker will have plenty of avenues to pursue should he want to weigh in here.

The Vice-Chair of Calendars is Dennis Bonnen (R – Angleton – 81 %). The Austin American-Statesman put it this way about Bonnen:

Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton. Bonnen wasn’t one of the original Anybody-But-Craddick Republicans who first elevated Straus to be speaker two years ago. But when Republicans met in a caucus meeting the day before the session to choose a speaker candidate, Bonnen was the most vocal about how the vote would be taken — and it all came up roses for Straus. Now Bonnen is the chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission and he’s leading the committee that will hear voter ID bills — a way to endear himself to the GOP grass roots if all goes well. He is also the vice chairman of Calendars and is on Transportation and Higher Ed — all strong.

Calendars Committee Members

Speaker Apts.

*Dan Branch – Straus inner circle

*Garnet Coleman – Democrat – 10 %

*Byron Cook – Crew of 11

*Charlie Geren – Crew of 11

*Jim Keffer –  Straus inner circle

*Tracy King – Democrat – 32 %

*Lois Kolkhorst – Appointed by Straus as Chair of Public Health

*Eddie Lucio III – Democrat – 16 %

Allan Ritter – Democrat – 32% (switched to Republican in 2010)  – As stated by the Austin American-Statesman:

Party-Switchers Reps. Chuck Hopson, Allan Ritter and Aaron Pena kept or got chairmanships. All three switched from the Democrats to the Republicans between sessions. Ritter did particularly well, getting seats on Calendars and Ways and Means. And don’t forget that the aforementioned Todd Hunter also used to be a Democrat.

*Eddie Rodriguez  — Democrat – 13 %

*Burt Solomons – Crew of 11 – Straus inner circle

*Vicki Truitt – closely associated with Crew of 11

*John Zerwas – Republican – 61 %

Legislative bills cannot come out onto the House floor for a vote until March 11 (60 days after legislature begins), but the gambling bills can be heard in the Calendars Committee one week before March 11.

FULL HOUSE FLOOR

On the full House floor, it takes 100 supporters to send the gambling bills to the voters as Constitutional amendments.

GAMBLING LOBBYISTS

Gambling lobbyists can contribute up until 30 days before the beginning of the legislative session (Jan. 11, 2011).  Please see the three charts posted at the bottom of this report that indicate the contribution amounts and dates the money was given by  the gambling lobby to Texas Legislators.

Texans for Economic Development PAC — $538,500.00  (Texans for Economic Development is a front group for the gambling lobby. Please notice how many dollars they handed out right before the cut-off date.)

Texas Gaming Association PAC – $222,250.00

Indian Reservations – $26,125.00

Gambling Lobby to Speaker Joe Straus from 2005-2010 — $134,051.11

The plan is to get these gambling bills in and out of committee as fast as possible so that those of us who are against the expansion of gambling in Texas do not have time to gather our forces.

TEXANS FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT — FRONT GROUP FOR GAMBLING LOBBY

Texans for Economic Development is a front group for horseracing track owners, and one of its top priorities has been enacting laws allowing slot machines at racetracks (usually under the euphemism “Video Lottery Terminals”).

Will Lutz stated in The Lone Star Report on 4.9.10:

Texans for Economic Development is not an honorable group, and honorable candidates should have nothing to do with this organization. It’s that simple…Two years ago, this organization spent lots of money running television ads with false and dishonest attacks on three outstanding conservatives — Phil King, Betty Brown, and Nathan Macias. The group’s ads contained claims that are provably untrue (http://www.lonestarreport.org/Home/tabid/38/EntryId/521/Is-discredited-gambling-lobby-group-meddling-in-GOP-primaries-again.aspx).

Even the Texas Gaming Association disagreed strongly with the tactics used by Texans for Economic Development because they targeted their ads at candidates who opposed their views.

SOCIETAL COSTS OF GAMBLING

Professor Earl L. Grinols, a distinguished professor of economics at Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, wrote Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits(published in March 2004). Grinols was a former senior economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan and testified before Congress and dozens of state legislatures on the economics of gambling.

Grinols decided to write his book because there was a great need for an economist to study the issue rather than a casino promoter or someone from an Indian tribe who had vested interests. His book is still considered one of the best economic sources on the topic of gambling.

Grinols found that because of the expansion of casinos:

The cost of pathological and problem gambling soared to nearly half the annual cost of drug abuse in the U. S.

Increased crime, lost work time, bankruptcies, and financial hardships faced by the families of gambling addicts reached epidemic proportions, costing the economy as much as $54 billion annually.

Casino gambling caused up to $289 in social costs for every $46 of economic benefit.

In 2003 dollars, the cost to society of an additional pathological gambler was $10,330.

The cost of raising tax dollars to cover some of these costs raised the totals to $11,303.

Grinols concluded that in the Midwest and South [including Texas], gambling caused a net loss to the community by removing gambling dollars from the local economy, and the local taxpayers had to pay for the “increased crime, personal bankruptcy, domestic violence, lost workdays, child abuse and other social costs from problem gamblers…about 10 percent of the population gambles regularly and accounts for up to 80 percent of the wagers in casino enterprises.”

National Gambling Impact Study Commission

According to the New York Times (7.29.10), the National Gambling Impact Study Commission found that the social costs of gambling outweighed the benefits by 3 to 1.

Electronic gambling (e.g., slot machines) is one of the most dangerous forms of gambling because it preys on pathological gamblers.  “It encourages and profits from the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of its clientele…People generally don’t embezzle from their employer, commit suicide or murder over a lost tennis game, though they do over their gambling losses.”

One of the reasons the gambling industry is so excited about race track slot machines is that they could be set up in a very short time whereas casinos take longer to build.

“The Hidden Costs of Bringing Gambling to Texas” by Lynn Woolley, Commentator and Talk Show Host

06:41 PM CDT on Wednesday, May 12, 2010

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/viewpoints/stories/DN-woolley_13edi.State.Edition1.2b11329.html

Excerpts from this article:

Detroit’s experience is a case in point. The city was tired of losing dollars to the big casino across the river in Windsor, Ontario. It took billions of dollars, including millions from city government for land, but Detroit got its wish. Soon after, 38-year-old police Officer Solomon Bell lost up to $20,000 at the MGM Grand Detroit Casino. After losing another $3,500 playing blackjack, he drew his service revolver and shot himself in the head.

And there’s the organized crime that seems to show up wherever there’s gambling. In 1996, 25 people were convicted in Louisiana in a scheme to skim video poker profits for the Marcello, Genovese and Gambino crime families. The good news is that gambling profits can help fund more police officers and perhaps set up a special state agency to investigate gambling corruption.

Yes, Texas just might make a pile of money from casinos. We’d also get what comes along with them: devastated families, suicides, more organized crime, a big new state bureaucracy and the massive cost of building them in the first place.

“Gamblings Impact on Families” – by  Ronald A. Reno, Focus on the Family

Divorce

In a survey of nearly 400 Gamblers Anonymous members, 28 % reported being either separated or divorced as a direct result of their gambling problems.

The number of divorces in Harrison County, Mississippi, has nearly tripled since the introduction of casinos. The county, which is home to ten casinos, has averaged an additional 850 divorces per year since casinos arrived.

2 million adults identified a spouse’s gambling as a significant factor in a prior divorce.

Child abuse and neglect

“Children of compulsive gamblers are often prone to suffer abuse, as well as neglect, as a result of parental problem or pathological gambling.”

In Indiana, a review of the state’s gaming commission records revealed that 72 children were found abandoned on casino premises during a 14-month period.

In Louisiana and South Carolina, children died after being locked in hot cars for hours while their caretakers gambled.

An Illinois mother was sentenced to prison for suffocating her infant daughter in order to collect insurance money to continue gambling.

Cases of child abandonment at Foxwoods, the nation’s largest casino in Ledyard, Conn., became so commonplace that authorities were forced to post signs in the casino’s parking lots warning parents not to leave children in cars unattended.

Domestic violence

Between one quarter and one half of spouses of compulsive gamblers have been abused.

Case studies of 10 casino communities conducted for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission revealed that the majority of those communities witnessed increases in domestic violence relative to the introduction of casinos.

Domestic violence shelters on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast reported increases in requests for assistance ranging from 100 to 300 percent after the introduction of casinos.

Domestic violence murders in at least 11 states have been traced to gambling problems since 1996.

*These statistics were taken from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, National Opinion Research Center, and from Associated Press articles.  To see the full documentation, please go to:  http://www.troubledwith.com/AbuseandAddiction/A000000707.cfm?topic=abuse%20and%20addiction%3A%20gambling

Arnie Wexler’s Testimony to National Gambling Impact Study Commission

Wexler was the Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey and has spoken extensively across the country to compulsive gamblers:

I was 30 years old, married with 2 children. I was in debt for the amount of three times my annual salary. I owed money to two finance companies, three banks, loan sharks and bookmakers and family, friends and co-workers for a total of thirty-two people.

I had just written a check to a stock brokerage firm for $4400.00 (to purchase stocks) and all I had was $10 in my account.

I thought about suicide on a daily basis, but never had enough guts to carry it out.

I was a plant manager for a Fortune 500 company, supervising 300 people and committing illegal acts to support my gambling addiction. Even in this phase I came to work every day in a suit and tie since my addiction was not visible to the untrained eye…

Racetracks, which were a dying industry, are now on the upturn with simulating, off track betting, poker rooms and slot machines. What used to be a four hour event is now an all day (and sometimes all night) event. It’s a haven for compulsive gamblers…

In a study done by UMDNJ (University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey) it was found that 22-26 % of those patients being admitted to an out-patient mental health setting also had a compulsive gambling problem…

We know that casino workers are at greater risk for compulsive gambling problems. They like quick action jobs and would prefer to be around gambling activities.

A casino worker (a few years ago) kidnapped a teenager and held him for ransom. He planned to use the money to help his family by continuing to gamble so he could win back the money he had lost.

There was a casino employee who had himself barred from gambling due to his problem.

Another worker sold her body on a consistent basis to high rollers to support her gambling addiction.

A casino credit manager with a gambling problem, let a gambler with bad credit, sign markers in order to get a ‘kick back.’

*Please go to this link to read Wexler’s own account and those of many across the country who have been involved in compulsive gambling:

http://www.aswexler.com/html/natlcommission.html Suzi Painter, Executive Director, Christian Life Commission, Baptist Convention of Texas

3.11 — http://scotthochberg.com/slots.html – “Casinos Bring Addiction, Economic Harm”

Excerpts from this report:

Gambling is a failed plot. The 270 casinos in the entire state of Nevada only generate $1 billion for the state. Yet that’s how much revenue is promised here [Texas]. 41 race track casinos nationally yield only $2.2 billion in taxes.

Promoters also promise 53,000 new jobs. Reality check? If you apply the national average for race track casino (racino) jobs to the 8 active and 5 inactive licensed Texas tracks, employment would only be 8,632 workers – many seasonal.

Racino planners say 98% of the dollars wagered in slots come from within a fifty mile radius of the track. Rep. Hochberg’s district would have to wager $115 million each year if racinos are to raise $1B for the state. And those gambled dollars would come out of the local businesses…

Nobody disputes that 1% to 2% of the population will suffer from pathological gambling if slots expand into their community. Seven states have quantified their costs of gambling addiction, bankruptcy and crime averaging $13,000 per person. Rep. Hochberg’s district alone would bear a cost of $18 M a year. There is no state money for treatment.

The horse racing tracks made empty promises in 1987, and they are promising big again. In 1987, the tracks promised tax revenue for Texas of $110 million per year. This has never been realized.

Racinos would open the floodgates for Indian casinos. Federal Indian gaming laws overpower states’ limitations on slot expansion…California and Oklahoma tried to control the “footprint”, but each now have more than 100 tribal casinos.

Casino gambling is an inefficient, unreliable, regressive form of revenue generation for Texas. Any expansion of gambling in the state will subject Texas to the same forces of Indian casino proliferation that have plagued other states….

Texans Against Gambling – “Race Tracks and Video Slot Machines – VLT’s – 2008”

http://texansagainstgambling.org/tracksandslots.aspx

Most recently it [the racing industry] began lobbying for legalization of Video Slot Machines (VLTs) at the tracks, arguing again that slots at the tracks would provide significant tax revenue to the state. They do not emphasize that failing race tracks would become major slot machine casinos, also known as ‘Racinos,’ overnight.

Video Slot Machines are known as the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling because of their addictive nature…The addiction cycle is shorter – about 1 year to become addicted… In fact, Big Gambling pays psychologists to assist game designers to make these machines more addictive, juicing up hypnotic sounds and sights and apparent near-misses to make users believe that skill is somehow involved in winning. In 2002, the Rhode Island Gambling Treatment Program identified video slots as ‘the most addictive form of gambling in history.’

Texas Public Policy Foundation — Research Report — March 2005 — “VLTs — What Are the Odds of Texas Winning?” by Chris Patterson

http://www.texaspolicy.com/pdf/2005-03-vlt.pdf

Excerpts from this report:

*There are well-documented costs that are associated with gambling:

*Regulatory activities generally consume about 10 percent of gambling revenues;

*Criminal justice costs increase 8 to 13 percent;

*State lottery revenue decreases approximately 10 percent;

*Revenues from taxes on non-gambling goods and services decline as discretionary spending is redirected to gambling; and

*Jobs are lost in non-gambling businesses.

*Sales declined 10 to 20 percent among local businesses in Natchez, Mississippi after gambling was introduced;

*50 percent of the city’s retail businesses and restaurants closed in Atlantic City within 10 years of the legalization of gambling;

*Violent crime increases up to 13 percent in counties with casinos that are least 4 years old;

*The State of Delaware reports underwriting between $1 to 1.5 million annually on social services related to gambling;

*The State of Wisconsin and local communities spend over $63 million annually on social and criminal justice costs associated with gambling;

*The American Insurance Institute identifies $1.3 billion in annual costs related to gambling and insurance fraud; and

*Bankruptcy rates in U.S. counties with casinos are 18 percent higher than those without casinos.

CONCLUSION

No matter what glowing promises the gambling supporters make about the benefits of gambling revenue, the problems that come along with the expansion of gambling always follow:  devastated families, addictive behavior, increased divorces and suicides, drug/alcohol abuse, more organized crime, massive start-up costs, a big state bureaucracy, and a loss of income to community businesses.

ACTION STEPS

The plan by gambling supporters is to get their gambling bills in and out of committee as fast as possible so that those of us who are against the expansion of gambling in Texas do not have time to gather our forces.  Wrong!

Please use the information contained in this report to contact your Texas State Legislators and build your case as to why we do not want an expansion of gambling in our state.

In all fairness, it is possible that Legislators did not know campaign contributions from the innocent-sounding group called “Texans for Economic Development” were actually coming straight from the gambling industry.  However, the campaign contributions that came from the Indian reservations and from the Texas Gaming Association speak for themselves.

It is also possible that even though numerous Texas Legislators accepted campaign contributions from the gambling industry, the Legislators may choose not to support the gambling bills.

This is where you come in.  By your contacting your Legislators, you can help them not to feel obligated to the gambling industry but instead to feel obligated to you, a constituent, to vote against gambling expansion in Texas.

Please write letters to your local newspapers, blogs, and Internet friends in Texas; and tell your faith-based organizations of the dangers of gambling expansion for families and for communities.

 

41 Comments

  • It certainly makes sense, as I begged the Harris County state reps to NOT elect Joe Straus as speaker of the Texas house. Whenever I can’t understand something, I choose the old advice to “Follow the money!”

  • Eric Weinmann

    I believe the Sovereign Indian Reservations ought to be allowed to have casino gambling. It is their sovereign right, just as it’s the right of Nevada or NJ or California to legalize gaming.

  • We did not work for our elected so hard for them to do this…We want conservative legislation and if this goes though many elected are finished and this has the ability to once again destroy our party..

    This was one of our BIG concerns with Joe Straus but may did not care and even got offended by our concerns. Well if this goes through there WILL be primary opponents.

    Let’s not sell our souls for a few dollars that will only be wasted

  • FOLLOW THE MONEY…my rep, Diane Patrick, ‘followed HER MONEY from Joe, against constituent wishes and will have a ‘handful’ come 2012!!

  • Let’s talk about misrepresentation … There were nearly 400,000 casino employees in the United States in 2008. That number has grown a little since then.

    Good idea guys … let’s decapitate the Texas education and library systems. A few extra Billion dollars going into the Texas budget from gambling is a GOOD THING.

    If you don’t approve of gambling, then don’t participate. Otherwise, shut up and let the rest of us do it.

    I don’t like payola either, but that isn’t the real issue here. The real issue is you pompous asses needing a soapbox to stand on. Spread your brand of morality elsewhere.

  • We do not need more money in the education system. We spend more per child than the rest of the world. The more money we spend the less we get for it. Our education issues are not fixed with money one might say they get worse with more money.

    Our issues in this nation’s government are not revenue issues they are spending issues. Our government has more money than it needs but it out spends what it gets. So let’s not feed the beast…Do we help a drunk by getting him a few more bucks and a better car?

    We need to reinstate the traditional American family and this is not done by letting the poor fix their problems with gambling. Gambling has shown it destroys families and brings in other criminal elements.

    For those who want Gambling feel free to move to Vegas but leave Texas alone.

  • LET THE PEOPLE VOTE. You have the right to YOUR opinion. If the citizens of the great state of Texas decide they want casino gambling, then let them have it. Our Representatives are suppose to represent US the citizens of Texas. Personally if i choose to Gamble with MY money then thats MY right. People with addictive personalites will be addicted to Bingo and Texas Lottery, which we have now. We’ve played poker and other gambling games for hundreds of years. Don’t act like this is some NEW thing.

    • Horse Lover

      Bryan, I agree 100%. The main people rejecting this to pass are the main people gambling. Lottery, scratch-offs are all forms of gambling. Its sad that the horse people in Texas are taking there horses to run in other states because the Texas tracks can not pay any money. Somebody’s pockets are getting filled very deep to not pass this bill. Travel the parking lot in Louisiana and tell me what license plates you see….TEXAS! People should be able to spend there money they want they want to.

  • We did vote and this was not an issue they campaigned on…So let them do the business they campaigned on and then campaign on a pro-gambling platform and lets see if they win..

  • People already gamble all over the State of Texas. The addition of Casino’s will only enhance the economy of The State. The objective is more Jobs and less Taxes.
    Morality has to do with personal choice, and it can not
    be deligated. There are many ways to gamble. There is no
    bigger gamble that opening a Small Business venture. The failure rare is about 80%. Is risking money on Business Imoral? Texas will end up being the last State to pass a Gaming Bill. 38 States or more have already passed Casino gambling. Wake-up…

    I

    • I understand your point but i must disagree. Yes people gamble in other states and many Texan go there to do that and thats fine.

      Its a proven fact that Gambling brings in other things are also not acceptable in Americans society. Prostitution is one. Yes its already here but we do not need to make bad Saviour acceptable.

      Many of our problems in America today can all be traced back to the breakup of the family and to the breakdown of the moral fabric that made this country strong. Many people fear goodness and righteousness because they live in the darkness and darkness hates the light.

      Yes Morality is a personal choice, morality says thou shall not kill and its a personal choice not to kill. Morality says thou shall not steal and its our personal choice not to steal. Our American nation was built on biblical morality. Our oral laws are not made for the moral and those who do right. They are made to set guild line for acceptable behavior for all of us and when we steep out of line society has the right and the moral obligation to take action.

      Lets find ways to build our nation NOT destroy it.

      • Kevin Johnson

        Ask the question as to “stock” “stock options”

        “ I just invested in Company “Ect.” I hope the stock goes through the roof “

        Ask, have you are any one you know opposed to gambling ever said this.

        “ It was there right to invest in anything that is legal, did they ask your opinion”

        I feel that most apposing Gambling would say that their investments are in no way compared!

        Citizens in this country have the right to their opinion.

        That is why we all have a right to vote!

        Only when our right is opposed by personal opinion is our rights taken from us.

        • When the ultimate family fun park “Disney opened in Florida Crime of all kinds grew within the county, this is to be expected when the population increases by 68%.

        Oh heck, I could go on and on!!!

        Let the voters decide !

    • That has been my biggest arguement for people that say gambling goes against our morals. Our entire economy was and is built on gambling. But it’s okay when you gamble with millions but it’s not okay for us to gamble for entertainment? Come on.

      If you don’t want to gamble, don’t. If you don’t want your kids to gamble, don’t allow them to. But just because you don’t want to gamble doesn’t mean you can bash people and make them seem like some kind of lower grade human. I just don’t get the “holier than thou” folks.

      • Horse Lover

        I agree James. People over enduldge in all sorts of things in life. I grew up in a gambling household, but never once did my parents or anyone else over endulge. You see we can over endulge in food, shopping, drinking, etc. but its all based on having limits. I do not believe that gambling will cause break-ups or makes any one person less of a christian, its a form of entertainment and you have live within your means and if you would rather spend extra money on gambling rather than shopping, going on trips, etc right here in your state so be it! We have a horse track right here in Texas that is closed for six months so that means all the horse people have to travel to another state and pay them to run at there track….pretty sad!

  • So if my view is to support gaming in Texas you will not poast my comment? That’s pretty sad.

    Christians teach to not judge and everything but they are the first ones to judge. So if we have casinos in Texas, all of the sudden the sky is falling and everyone is going to hell? Really?

    If you’re going to judge me for wanting to entertain myself with a few bucks by sitting at a poker table I will choose to judge you because I’m sure you have plenty of sin on your plate, buddy.

    • The bible does NOT say do not judge. You are taking only what you like and many do this. The Bible says to take the plank out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of your neighbors eye.

      We are to judge.

      What does having an immoral society like the one you support have to do with Judging?

      Keep grabbing at straws to support the weak argument…for many its just another gamble…

  • So you post my comment after I blast you. Nice.

  • This article speaks about RINO’s, when in fact the rhetoric is that of someone who is not truly a conservative. Republican’s (Conservatives) are those who are in favor of limited government intervention. Why should the state government be able to disallow gambling if that is what the citizens want? Why should the “morals” of a few supercede the desires of the masses?

    You accuse others of being RINOs when you should look no further than the nearest mirror.

    • So Chris in your infinite wisdom you think to be a good Republican one should disagree with the values and beliefs that are laid out in the Republican Party platform? Spoken like a true libertarian.

      So in your infinite wisdom should we also legalize drugs and prostitution? After all these are moral laws based in biblical tradition and have no relevance in today’s society.

      I guess I am a good RINO because I do believe in the ideas and beliefs that are in our party platform. I believe that the strength of our nation comes from our morality.

      I believe the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

      I believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.

      I believe that free enterprise and the encouragement of individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.

      I believe government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.

      I believe the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.

      I believe the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

      I believe Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.

      I believe Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

      • I just have to say I hope you do not pass it. My state loves your taxpayers money. You keep me employed and making great money! The people who are against it do not understand the financial benefits even though they might say they do. Or they are receiving some sort of kick back from out of state casinos. Oh, and about the negative impacts you are bringing up prostitution, murders, ect. Where i live we have had maybe 4 murders this past decade none of which were related to gambling. Yea there is a prostitute from time to time but that is why you have security, wow what a great idea, security to keep them out. Countless training seminars on how to spot problem gamblers also keep your staff informed and aware of who you need to help.
        Being from the Dallas area i can see that gaming would be a great thing for the area, but like i first said than you for not passing it and fighting it so we can all get rich off your gamblers coming here!

        • So you are for BIG government i see…all that tax money feeds the government and helps it grow…

          In my personal opinion we have to starve government to get it smaller not feed it…

          • Apparently you missed the point of my post….Good job in trying to redirect what i said there, it didn’t work, however i will say this. Yes i am a fan of big government if it means economic growth for my city, state, and then our nation. We just need to make sure we have people in place who know how to properly run our government.

      • Bill you conservative always preaching about morals and family values.When in fact You guys are the biggest hipocrites.Texas has the highest execution rate than any other state.Know state should have the right to kill its citzens,but I understand.We walk around carrying our cwl like a badge of honor.lets not be the last to pass a effective gambling bill that protect all of Texas citizens.

  • It bothers me somewhat when people call themselves proponents of free enterprise but want to say, well, except for gambling enterprise.

    It bothers me a little more when those same people are the one who lost their shirts gambling in the stock market just recently…apparently white collar gambling is ok, but blue collar gambling is not.

    It bothers me even more when those same people go home and watch golf…where the participants are gambling for a big purse…just as poker players compete to win a tournament.

    But what really, really bothers me about anti-gambling advocates, is when they quote irrelevant or insignificant stats to create the false appearance of having statistical data to support their opinion.

    1) I suspect you know, when they say gambling will create 77,000.00 new jobs, they did not say “gambling jobs.” You infused that term in so you could compare it to the total number of “gambling jobs.” Why did you feel the need to skew that?

    Or do you not realize that when you build a huge Vegas-style casino-resort, there are more jobs created than just those who work for the casino? In such a creation, there are sheets to be washed…often by outside companies. Supplies to be bought. All those steak dinners have to come from a food supplier. To service those casinos, existing food supply and linen supply companies must expand. Hotels spring up to catch surplus visitors…those require employees. New restaurants to support the new employees moving into the area, new housing to house the workers has to be built, banks to support them, grocery stores…etc. The you have the computer supprt to run the casinos and their machines, the 6000 tvs that go in each room, the 6000 beds…etc. When you build a casino, its like building a city..that city requires people to fill the supporting roles. If you want to argue your position, fine. But argue it honestly, don’t try to skew reality to support what you want.

    On that same note, the fact that a particular county has 850 more divorces after casinos arrive has no value unless you know what the population was before and after the casinos arrived. It is a known fact there there will be a significant population increase due to the new influx of jobs the casinos created–both directly and indirectly. Unless the statistic is analyzed on a per capita basis it is useless. it works the same for crime statistics.

    For example, lets say a society has a population of 100,000 and there are 1000 felonies a year or in other words 1% per capita. if the casinos come along and the population doubles. but there are only 850 more felonies that next year, then statistically, crime went down following the introduction of casinos.

    So, until you tie the increase into the population growth, its just an irrelevant number. If we are just going to look at raw numbers, one could argue we should annihilate the population and then there would be 1000 less felonies!

    Lets look at another of your irrelevant stats:

    “The American Insurance Institute identifies $1.3 billion in annual costs related to gambling and insurance fraud”

    really? insurance fraud? like faking a car wreck to get money or filing false medicare claims? What does that have to do with gambling? You don’t think those two things ought to be separated out so we can see exactly what the numbers relate to?

    If you want to argue your position fine, but do it honestly and with relevant data. Thats all ask.

    As for the arguments you made about it bringing in ‘bad things’ like prostitution and gambling addicts, you have made two incorrect assumptions.

    1) that making it illegal prevents people from gambling and thus, we don’t have gambling addicts.

    and

    2) that we dont already have a prostitution problem.

    As for 1, there are more gambling halls in Hosuton Texas than Las Vegas. Its here, they arent hard to find and the people are already doing it. Those who fear getting busted need only drive 2 hours to louisiana or oklahoma to do it. Making it illegal does not prevent gambling addicts from gambling.

    As for 2, making gambling illegal doesnt stop, or even slow prostitution. The US Gov’t has indicated that there are 18,000-20,000 human trafficking victims brought into the us and 25% are in Texas. We have way more than the 2% our State ought to have. Most of them are sex slaves. Most are girls between 11 and 17. There are over 140 houses harboring sex slaves in Houston Texas alone. Prostitution is already here in Texas. So this idea that gambling is going to bring it here is an argument that simply fails to see, its already here more so than anywhere on the entire planet.

  • Free enterprise to some means do anything you want. Free enterprise to me is not making everything legal.

    Should we that like free enterprise make Prostitution legal? If so then should we also in the name of free enterprise take out all age limits?

    Should we in the name of free enterprise also make all drugs legal? After its only free enterprise.

    Using the logic of free enterprise to make all things legal. Should we make murder for hire legal? I mean look if you are for free enterprise one must embrace the the free market..

    I am all for free enterprise but i am also for keeping promoting what is good and just and will help us build and maintain a good and just society.

    In America we need to rebuild our judo-Christian values not through them out.

    • I see you only responded to the least of my ‘bothers.’

      Please address my biggest concern and explain to me how you are “rebuild(ing) our judeo-Christian values” by quoting irrelevant statistics such as an increase in total divorces vs divorces per capita and/or twisting the creation of “77,000 jobs” into “77,000 casino jobs” so that you could ignore all the indirect jobs created and try to minimize the real job-creating value of gambling resorts. Or is honesty not one of those judeo-Christian values you refer to?

      Or perhaps you are an end-justify-the-means person? Is it ok to skew some data here or manufacture some stats there in order to achieve what you perceive to be a justified end?

      Irrespective of how great one may perceive the ‘end’ to be, can one really “promote what is good and just and will help us build and maintain a good and just society” by being deceitful?

  • Any surprise that the author was a life long Texas teacher? Just saw that when a new casino opened in Vegas last year (City Center- google it please) there were 160,000 applicants for 10,000 jobs. So I guess that means pretty much every single casino worker in the whole United States applied…. Way to read your bls charts Donna. If i didn’t have a job and more important things to do, I guarantee we can find 80% of your “facts” wrong.  As Texas horse racing track worker for the past 10 years I can honestly say I’ve ran into very few people like this Bill poster & Donna (maybe 2) All we want is a chance to Vote!!!
    PS Bill: I played bingo at a church yesterday, sinful??? 

    • You can you say and do all you want to justify what is wrong to make it right. So feel free to make what is wrong right and I will keep standing for what’s right.

      I am happy that you played bingo yesterday this happens in some churches but this does not make it right. I would think that if Jesus himself walked into the church today he would turn over the tables and say that you have turned a house of prayer into a den of thieves…

      My duty is to stand up for what’s right the outcome is up to God.

      • What happened to seperation of church and state. Your religious values should not have any bearring on your political outlook. If gambling is such a bad thing then why do 38+ states have it legalized? Its not your place to say what were are not allowed to do so you can protect us from ourselves. Thats the complete opposite of what a republican stands for. If you wanna take care of us from craddle to the grave then there are plenty of democrats that see things the way you do. Gambling is a choice and it is not a rediculous choice and last time I checked thats what our country stood for was the ability to have freedom of choice. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness now shuffle up and deal!

        • Separation of church and state is a false myth. there shall be no state religion …many want to twist this to justify their own immorality.

          • I bet your upset the world didn’t end this weekend. You’re one of those people aren’t you.

          • Mike most of us know better than that..But you love and kindness shows though you and what you say..

            Thanks for caring…

  • Horse Lover

    Its not that the big boys dont want gambling they just dont want to give up the big money that these other states are paying them to not pass the bill! There is no way that we should have to travel with our horses to other states to run, its crazy. If it means open up more jobs, better our education which will elimanate all these teachers from losing there jobs….than we need it. If people cant gamble and have limits without it leading to divorce, etc than they had a problem before they started going to the casinos, thats all I can say. Im a chirstian, grew up going to church, still go every Sunday. My children go to bible camp in the summer and my parents are still married 40 years let me add! Ive been married for 13 years and we like to gamble its a form of entertainment and my husband is a horse trainer. Its very hard for his business to survive in Texas which is the leading Quarter Horse State! So, does this make me less of a christian…..of course not, because good morals and values have been instilled in me and that follows you wherever you go. This world would be a much better place if people would let people vote, whatever is right or wrong will be determined upon each individuals judgement day! Im for it 150%!!

  • I have no problem with Texas not passing this. I am 30 minutes from Shreveport. I’m happy taking my tax paying self to another state. And I’m a perfectly good Christian with a good relationship with God.

  • THE ONE THING I DO NOT UNDERSTAND IS WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL IF PEOPLE GAMBLE OR NOT. IT IS ANY PERSONS RIGHT TO DO WHAT THEY PLEASE WITH THEIE MONEY. a LOT OF THE TEXAS MONEY USED FOR GAMBLING IS CURRENTLY GOING TO OTHER STATES. tHE BIG PICTURE IS LOOK AT ALL THE JOBS THAT WOULD BE CREATED. BETWEEN THE THREE BIG CITIES WE WOULD HAVE CREATED 100,000 OF JOBS THEN MAYBE SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT ARE ON THE LONE STAR CARD WILL GET JOBS AS WELL.

  • I’m somewhat conservative too…but I’m not “ridiculous” about it! I work hard to earn my money; and I should have a say as to what form of entertainment I want to spend my money on. I just wonder how many conservatives would want the govt to tell them they can’t spend their money on bowling, a new car or a home! What if they said you can’t enter a sweepstakes or contest because you might spend the money in a bad way or you may become addicted to them.

    Just because people with gambling problems may show up at a casino; doesn’t mean the rest of the state needs to be treated the same. Yes, some will be spending money from their welfare checks: but those people most likely have already been spending their money on frivolous things and entertainment. So what else is new?

    The religious view – There is NO religious view that counts! If your religious beliefs declare that you don’t gamble – then that’s between you and God. I know several christians of all denominations who make special trips to go gambling. They have a good time and are responsible people. 55% of the people in this state want the casinos. Of course, I guess this state can continue to allow strip clubs and bars which have been known to lead to greater violence; but a casino? Oh my…no way! I just wonder how many of the radical christians have a secret lifestyle?

    How many of you naysayers have even spent some time in a casino? Wouldn’t it be more constitutional to help with education of self-control than to dictate our lives?

    • I don’t see Texas politicians taking away the “Lottery”. If you took a poll I would guarantee that more people play the lottery in one week than visit the casino. So, if it is truly a matter of not allowing gambling due to the cost of 1 in 100,000 being addicted and committing crimes, then we need to pull out of the lotteries as well. But, we truly know what it is really about……..POWER!!! Money is power and the people with the most money have all the power. If they want to tell you when and where you have to use the bathroom, they can. The republican party says they believe in smaller government and less government regulation, however they are keeping us from a form of entertaining ourselves. Everyone who lives within 2 hours of a border are still gambling, they are just taking their money and investing in a state which doesnt think government should stand in the way of entertainment. So basically, the only way to truly keep the people of Texas from gambling in other states would be to “close the borders” to all the other states.

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