AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released today by Let Texans Decide:
In recent days the Dallas Morning News editorial page, and the Texas Association of Business, have endorsed allowing voters to decide on a casino gaming referendum. With the 83rd Regular Session convening today, legislators will have the opportunity to empower voters to decide for themselves how they want to spend their money and time. Their endorsements are provided in full:
Dallas Morning News, 1/4/13, "Let Texans weigh the risks on casinos" (http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20130103-editorial-let-texans-weigh-the-risk-on-casinos.ece):
"A casino billboard once sought to draw travelers from a typically scrubby stretch of New Mexico highway with the gambler's siren song: 'It's your turn to win!'"
As anyone who has banged away on a slot machine, turned a card or rolled dem bones can tell you, it often isn't. The odds favor the house. Most Americans understand the risk of putting their hard-earned cash into games of chance. Some accept it for the rush and the fun. Others refuse.
They make the free-will choice, often not far from their homes. Gambling is no longer limited to a neon city in the desert. Forty-eight states allow some iteration; 40 have some form of legal casinos, from riverboats to racetrack slots.
The world hasn't stopped turning. States and localities have banked the tax dollars and benefited from the economic development. So when will it be Texas' turn to win?
More precisely, when will state lawmakers give Texans a chance to vote?
Biennium after biennium, this newspaper has implored the Legislature to put a casino gambling measure in front of voters. That's the most they can do, as a change to the state's gambling laws requires a voter-approved amendment to the Texas Constitution. Even if voters statewide choose legalization, local voters would still have to approve gambling in their communities.
The most logical argument in favor of such an amendment hasn't changed. Some Texans want to gamble. They will fly or drive to do it where it's legal. A pro-industry study estimates that in 2007, Texans put in play about $2.4 billion in seven states: Nevada, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona.
Anyone who has reviewed the license plates outside Oklahoma's WinStar and Choctaw casinos or Shreveport-Bossier City's riverboats would argue that estimate is conservative.
Gambling interests will be back in Austin this session, amid encouraging signs that they have found a unity of purpose: Las Vegas-styled resort casinos in metro areas. Past efforts have failed to even get a bill to the floor for debate, hampered in part by divergent priorities.
The opposition hasn't changed, either. Republicans dominate both houses, with increasing numbers apparently more loyal to their socially conservative bases than free-market principles.
Even without a repeat of 2011's dramatic budget shortfalls, they will struggle to bring needed new spending into balance with holding the line at all costs on higher tax revenue.
All this newspaper is asking them to do this session is consider whether introducing a new industry to our state would spark an increase in construction activity, temporary and permanent jobs, and property and sales taxes.
They don't even have to go all in, just support more revenue from people willing to provide it — unlike, say, with a tax increase. They can let their constituents make the not-so-tough call for them.
Gambling laws in three of Texas' neighbor states:
Legal gaming: Commercial casinos, tribal casinos, racetrack casinos
Gaming revenue, 2007: $2.566 billion
Revenue from Texas, 2007: $1.016 billion
Legal gaming: Tribal casinos, racetrack casinos
Gaming revenue, 2007: $923.9 million
Revenue from Texas, 2007: $204.2 million
Legal gaming: Tribal casinos, racetrack casinos
Gaming revenue, 2007: $2.478 billion
Revenue from Texas, 2007: $478.4 million
Source: "The Economic and Tax Revenue Impact of Racino Gaming in Texas," a study for Texans for Economic Development
Texas Association of Business, 1/4/13 (http://www.txbiz.org/news/newsarticledisplay.aspx?ArticleID=166):
Bill's Daily Message for Friday, January 4, 2013
The TAB Board supports giving Texans the right to vote on casino gambling in Texas. It really makes no sense for this money to continue to flow across the border when it could be used here for our needs and be another economic development tool for the state.
President & CEO
Let Texans Decide is dedicated to providing the citizens of Texas the opportunity to voting on the expansion of gaming in Texas through the passage of a constitutional amendment in the Texas Legislature. Our effort has the support of chamber organizations and business leaders across Texas in addition to leaders in the gaming industry.
SOURCE Let Texans Decide