Gambling should be voters’ call
Texas legislators are under some pressure to take action on gambling. Should they send a measure to the ballot this November and ask Texans to amend their state constitution to allow casino gambling in Texas?
It’s not clear what legislators will do on this one. But the issue does cause some conflict.
Many Texans want casino gambling here. They like the thrill of pitting their luck against the “house.” Texas government, they say, needs a new revenue stream.
Many other Texans believe gambling is no way to fund state government, that it preys on those who can least afford to spend money on the chance of winning big.
Gambling is a loser for Texas. But as easy it is to say that legislators should kill this idea before voters have a chance to vote on it, the decision rightly ought to belong to Texans.
Republicans who control both legislative houses might be less inclined to support gambling than Democrats.
That clearly appears to be the case among Panhandle House Republicans, who have indicated a reluctance to support legalized gambling in any form.
Pro-gambling Texans note that residents of this state are traveling to neighboring states — New Mexico, Louisiana and Oklahoma — where casino gambling is allowed.
They ask: Why not keep that money in Texas? That’s the same logic that propelled the state lottery to victory in 1991.
Indeed, legislators and the governor play with fire when they decide for themselves whether Texans should be able to vote on measures.
The late Gov. Ann Richards, for example, paid a huge political price by vetoing a bill in 1993 that would have allowed Texans to vote on concealed handgun carry legislation; she lost her bid for re-election the next year.
Would a gambling bill prompt the same kind of enthusiasm among Texans? Well, that remains an open question.
The best way to answer it is to let Texans decide this issue for themselves.