What You Need To Know About The Effort To Expand Gambling In Texas


I don’t gamble and I’ve never been to a casino or a race track. Why should I care about expanding gambling options in Texas?
The answer is easy. It affects your pocketbook. Millions of dollars each year are leaving Texas and going across the border because of the availability of gaming in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. That means we are losing huge amounts of tax revenue each year. Our neighboring states are using Texas dollars to pay for everything from new schools, to better healthcare and increased law enforcement.  Estimates are that Texas is losing between $1 and $2 billion a year in tax revenue to these other states and that’s not counting the $5 billion impact on local economies and the thousands of jobs that would be created with casinos or racinos in Texas. Our projected budget deficit next year is $18 billion dollars. Expanded gambling won’t solve the whole problem but it certainly would help fill the budget gap and keep your taxes from increasing or as many services from being cut.

Would I get to vote on expanded gambling in Texas, or does the Legislature decide?
Expanding gambling in Texas would require a constitutional amendment. Despite the fact that polls show a huge majority of Texans want to expand gambling options, it would require two-thirds of the legislature to approve putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot. If that takes place, voters will get to decide their own future. And that’s what America and Texas is all about – letting the people make the choice.

What kind of gambling options are currently legal in Texas?
There are various forms of gambling available in Texas. Bingo games help support charities and you can learn how to play that game plus get a great guide to all the bingo halls in Texas at www.bingointexas.com. Horse and dog racing are also available in Texas even though most of the tracks will tell you they need to add other gambling options such as video lottery terminals to help improve their financial bottom line. A complete list of Texas horse and dog tracks, along with other tracks around the country, can be accessed at www.texashorserace.com. And there is also the Texas lottery which features numbers games as well as scratch off lottery tickets. You can learn about all the different gambling options in Texas at www.gambleintexas.com.

Isn’t gambling already allowed on Indian Reservations in Texas?
Only the Indian reservation at Eagle Pass has not been closed by the state. In 2002 Texas shut down the Speaking Rock Casino owned by the Tiqua tribe in El Paso. It employed 800 people while it was open from 1993 to 2002, when the state shut down the casinos. The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino is the only casino not currently closed down by the state. It has over 1,500 electronic gaming machines, offers Texas Hold ‘Em poker and live bingo.

I have heard people talking about slot machines and video lottery terminals called VLTs. What is the difference in these two types of games?
A slot machine runs independently or in conjunction with other slot machines. Odds are set by the owners. You can learn more about slot machines and see how they operate online at www.lotsofslots.com. A Video lottery terminal is similar to an electronic scratch-off ticket. The odds are set by the state, and they are all connected to a central location like the Texas Lottery Commission.


Wouldn’t expanded gambling add to the problem of compulsive gamblers?
People make the argument that this will cause more issues for those with a gambling addiction. But there is really no proof or good research out there one way or the other. The State will regulate expanding gambling options and just as it does currently with the Texas Lottery could dedicate some of the revenue for treatment of compulsive gamblers.

Would expanded gambling impact the number of criminals moving to and operating in Texas?
This myth seems to be perpetuated by all the old movies that show shady crime figures in the era when Las Vegas first became a gambling mecca. In fact, legalized gambling will help regulate the industry and stop much of the illegal gambling currently going on in Texas.


What exactly are racinos and why do race tracks need to expand their gambling options?
Racinos are sort of mini casinos within the race track that give visitors a chance to play video lottery games. Eleven states now allow racinos at their race tracks and it has raised billions of dollars in tax revenue for those states. Texas race tracks are losing business to neighboring states because people would rather spend their entertainment dollars at venues where they can get the whole package. In Texas part of the issue surrounding the gambling debate has been over whether the state should just allow racinos or full fledged casinos.  For expanded gambling to pass in Texas, supporters of racinos and casinos need to come to a compromise that will help race tracks and allow a certain number of casinos in the state.