Like most states in the US, Texas has budgetary concerns. Texas politicians will return to work this week to figure out a way to tackle an estimated $20 billion budget shortfall. Like most governments, when they need money, gambling revenue becomes more palatable so it’s highly likely the Texas State Legislature will consider an expansion gambling in the state. Consideration is one thing but passing expanded gambling is another.
The Texas Gaming Association, which led a push in 2009 to legalize casino gambling in Texas is preparing for another big push in 2011. Officials with the TGA feel with the Texas budgetary deficit, this could be their best chance to make a chance to the gambling regulation in America’s second most populous state.
The big challenge for expanding regulating gambling in Texas is that changes to the gaming laws will require a change to the Texas constitution. Constitutional changes require two-thirds of the state house and senate would be required to support the motion.
Two-thirds seems like an impossible goal, especially after the Republican shift in the US mid-term elections. The Republican’s currently hold 101 of 150 of the House Seats and historically that means bad news for the expansion of any sort of fun, let alone expanded gambling is Texas.
The 2009 proposal called for 12 casinos across the state but 2011 will feature a change in strategy, as TGA will lobby for four destination casinos. The Dallas, Houston and San Antonio areas would be a given considering their population and the fourth could be placed along the Gulf Coast as a resort destination casino.
Any attempt to sway the Republican majority with the promise of increased jobs and revenues will likely fall on deaf ears as the heavyweight Christian lobby group, the Christian Life Commission has already promised to block any expanded gambling proposals in the state.
The religious lobby is Texas is incredibly powerful, in the past they’ve successfully had Texas schoolbooks changed to elevate creationism in the texts and successfully increased the role of religion in the states curriculum.
If by chance the expansion of regulated gaming in Texas finds approval in the 2011 session, a push for regulated online gaming would be the next jewel in the crown.
However, it all seems like a pipedream right now. Texas is traditionally the last domino to fall in terms of expanded fun, unless you want to hunt quail with an assault rifle. God, Guns and Grit but not expanded regulated gambling.