Gambling expansion has been a topic of hot debates in the US, with Texas being one of the latest states to see a proposal of introducing legal casino gaming on its territory. House Representative Joseph Deshotel, a Democrat from Beaumont, Texas, is pushing a piece of legislation, that aims to legalize casino-style gambling on the territory of some counties, if approved.
Deshotel told local media that if the bill passes, voters from the state will have the opportunity to decide on whether or not casino gambling should become a fact in the state of Texas. New casinos might arrive in the counties of Galveston, Nueces, and Jefferson if House Bill 494 is approved.
The bill’s approval will also pave the way for the introduction of horse and greyhound race tracks in the counties of Bexar and Harris. The licenses for the gambling venues and the race tracks will be issued by the Texas Lottery Commission.
House Representative Deshotel considers the introduction of regulated casino gambling a great way to collect more funds for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), which provides as many as 14 Gulf-Coast counties in the state with additional hail and wind insurance.
If approved, the bill may help homeowners across Jefferson, Galveston, Harris, and Nueces as all four counties are located on the Gulf Coast, an area that is plagued by hurricane activity on an annual basis. The 2018 hurricane season alone produced as many as fifteen named storms in the Atlantic, two of which major ones.
Opinions on Texas Gambling Expansion Are Polarized
Some Texans have spoken in favor of gambling legalization in the state. The owner of Louisiana’s Golden Nugget, Tilman Fertitta, also addressed the topic in front of local media and expressed his support for the introduction of casino gambling in the state of Texas. Mr. Fertitta is of the opinion casino gambling should be well-regulated or not legalized at all.
However, not everyone embraces the idea of House Representative Deshotel. Residents of other states have also voiced their opinions on gambling expansion in Texas. A resident of Oklahoma, where casino gambling enjoys a legal status, went as far as to hint the additional funds from gambling are sometimes used for purposes other than those intended.
Others like Agnes Donnelly from the county of Galveston is of the opinion the introduction of such activities may do more harm than good to Texans since it often leads to addiction. The Galveston resident believes there are other, less harmful ways to pool more funds for additional hurricane insurance.
Most gambling activities are illegal on the territory of the state, with Texans being able to legally purchase lottery tickets. Other legal forms of gambling include parimutuel betting on greyhound and horse races, raffles, and charitable bingo. Certain Native American tribes are permitted to legally operate gambling venues from within their reservations.
However, the options are still rather limited which causes illegal gambling operations to occasionally pop up on the Texas authorities’ radar. The last instance of illegal gambling operations was uncovered this past November when a fire call resulted in the discovery of over 100 slot machines in a Houston church.