ACTION STEP: Please contact your Texas Legislators and tell them that we do not want any expansion of gambling in our state. Ask them to vote against both Rep. Hamilton’s HJR 147 and Rep. Hilderbran’s HB 254. Hilderbran’s bill is making rapid progress and is on the General State Calendar for this Tuesday, on 5.10.11.
Hilderbran’s bill makes Texas horse racing derbies possible; and, of course, the next small step would be a piece of legislation to open the way for racetrack casinos (“racinos”) at those horse racing derbies.
We do not want any expansion whatsoever of gambling in Texas because the net loss to communities outweighed the benefits 3 to 1!
Rep. Mike Hamilton (R – Mauriceville) is the chair of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee and was appointed by Speaker Straus.
Legislation that involves the expansion of gambling will normally come before the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee (L&A).
Rather than get someone else to float the gambling bill, Rep. Hamilton (the Straus-appointed chair) filed HJR 147 himself. This bill, if passed, would open the door to the expansion of gambling in Texas including video slot machines, casinos, gambling, and race tracks.
Hamilton wants a full racetrack casino (“racino”) at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie and also five luxury casinos (one per county) in Tarrant, Harris, Dallas, Bexar, and Travis Counties. 4.28.11 — Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.
In Oct. 2009, Global Gaming, a Chickasaw subsidiary, made a deal to buy Lone Star Park racetrack in Grand Prairie. Global Gaming also wants to build a race track in Amarillo.
In January 2010, Global Gaming bought bankrupt Remington Park which is located in Oklahoma City. Remington Park is a track-plus-casino (a.k.a., a “racino”). The Chickasaws were able to turn Remington Park around by the expansion of video slots that are not only profitable in themselves but also allow the track to increase prize money payouts.
The Chickasaws want Texas to change its video slot laws and to expand gambling at horse tracks, and the Chickasaws have hired high-paid lobbyists to influence our Texas Legislature. 5.7.11 — Dallas Morning News.
It is clear that both the Chickasaws and Speaker Joe Straus would find it beneficial for Texas legislators to vote for the expansion of gambling in Texas.
STRAUS’ GAMBLING INTERESTS
One of our biggest concerns over Straus as Speaker was 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.
SNIPPETS OF ALARMING STATISTICS
Professor Earl L. Grinols, who is one of the leading economic experts on gambling in the United States, 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.”
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.
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.
Failing race tracks would become major slot machine casinos, also called ‘Racinos,’ overnight.
Seven states have quantified their costs of gambling addiction, bankruptcy and crime averaging $13,000 per person.
PLEASE READ MY TWO ARTICLES ON GAMBLING
To read more details about the devastating impact of the expansion of gambling upon Texas, please go to “Texas To Turn into Another Nevada?” — 3.28.11:
On 3.9.11, I wrote a second companion piece entitled “The Sicilian Mafia’s Texas Connections.” If you wish to read this article, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org so that I can e-mail it to you. The article is a bit too lengthy to post here.
To learn more about Rep. Hamilton’s bill (HJR 147) and the names of the joint authors including Rep. Woolley, please go to: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Actions.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HJR147
HB 254 authored by Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (R – Kerrville) can be found at: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Actions.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB254
Hilderbran’s bill makes Texas horse racing derbies possible; and, of course, the next small step would be a piece of legislation to open the way for “racinos” to operate in Texas. Hilderbran’s bill is making rapid progress and is on the General State Calender for this Tuesday, on 5.10.11.