Hot Take: Let’s Not Bet On Gambling in Texas

A proposal by Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) was heard in the House State Affairs Committee last week and the now biennial push to approve casino gambling in Texas has begun, led by Las Vegas Sands which has FOURTEEN lobbyists on its payroll.

Geren told the committee: “I’ve filed [the bill] to let our constituents decide whether they want to allow destination resort gambling in the State of Texas. The polls show whether they’re for ‘em or against ‘em, they’d like to vote on them — and either let’s do it or let’s quit talking about it.”

I say, let’s quit talking about it. Let me explain why I am adamantly opposed to casino gambling coming to Texas. 

Geren states to the committee that despite wanting to give Texans’ the “freedom” to choose the path forward on gambling, his bill only applies to certain resorts in certain locations.

While that may sound good to you, that is quintessential central planning by the government. When the government dictates which businesses can open and where, it’s not market forces these businesses (and in this case, casinos) answer to, but rather the administrative state – political or administrative bodies.

I’ll give you one guess exactly who will likely get most, if not all of those casino permits — that’s right, Las Vegas Sands. So “the people” vote on whether or not to allow casino gambling in Texas, but the fix is already in by the central planners! 

This unholy alliance between politicians and lobby pushing this kind of proposal is pure, unadulterated cronyism — on steroids. 

Good Lord, can you imagine the kickbacks, favors, incentives and tax breaks that would be eventually gotten by these casinos in backroom dealings? Unfortunately, I can. 

The next line of argument the casinos and their supporting politicians will make is “but look at all the revenue it’ll bring the state!”

First of all, politicians need to stop looking for “revenue” streams and start looking for ways to stop the dadgum spending! Secondly, that was exactly the argument made in the 90s when then Gov. Ann Richards (D) brought in the lottery. She called it the answer to school funding! Remember that? But look where we are now: another session talking about runaway property taxes caused by school spending. It wasn’t the answer she pitched it as then and this isn’t that answer now. 

I not only think we shouldn’t have casino gambling in Texas, I absolutely do not believe that the state should be in the business of operating its own gambling scheme either. I want the lottery abolished. Gone. Think of the money that will go back into Texans pockets by not taxing us to support another agency that we absolutely do not need and doesn’t do what it was proclaimed to do!

The state has THIRTY-TWO BILLION DOLLARS in its coffers to spend this session due to record sales tax collections and the Legislature is feuding over how to spend it. But rather than using it as a position of strength to cut spending, that idea hasn’t really crossed anyone’s minds — as it seems to never do.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has stated that Republican Senators are uninterested in Geren’s casino proposal. Thank goodness. I hope they hold that line. I worry they won’t.

Gambling is fun. That’s why it’s so attractive and makes it easy to say: “Yeah! Why doesn’t Texas have gambling?!” However, gambling has immense consequences and costs to the state and its citizenry.

It’s disingenuous to pretend that gambling would come to Texas and have no unintended consequences.

There are huge societal and monetary costs that come with gambling

Your taxes won’t go down because the state is bringing in casinos. It’ll have the exact opposite effect. Your taxes will go up because government will have to grow as another agency will be formed, more government personnel will be hired, regulatory costs will be taken on, etc, etc. We’ve seen this play out time and time again.

But not only that, the social services costs will necessarily rise as well. And we — the taxpayers — will all be on the hook for these incredibly high monetary costs that gambling brings.

If this were to pass, don’t be surprised if, while you’re at a casino plugging away at the slots, you look up to see Rep. Geren and his cohorts partying away in the VIP section — on the house, of course.