For many years the State of Texas was firmly against gaming or gambling in any form. I, as a member of the Legislature, was among the opponents of opening our state to gambling. At the time I believed, and still believe, gambling is a sucker’s game. The only people who really win are the owners of the gambling establishments.
Things have changed. Now, our state has adopted hypocrisy as an official policy of the state. While our legislature continues to refuse to allow people to vote on whether or not to allow gaming in Texas, we are spending millions each month promoting one of the biggest sucker games of all--the lottery.
If refusing to allow gaming in Texas would stop Texans from losing their money, or becoming addicted to gambling, I would probably still be opposed to having the Legislature submit a proposed constitutional amendment for the people of Texas to vote on. Unfortunately, we are not preventing gambling with our current state of affairs in Texas, but only stopping our gamblers from gambling in Texas. A recent study by a group called “Let Texas Decide” has revealed approximately $2.96 billion are being spent by Texans in Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. We are not saving our people from gambling, we are only forcing them to donate their money to adjoining states.
'Way back, when I was a member of the Legislature, the Christian Life Council was a primary opponent to the legalization of gambling. Although they did not participate much in elections directly, they were devout in their opposition to taking advantage of people foolish enough to gamble away their money and wished to protect Texans from such sinful conduct. In recent years, however, it is not the Christian element which forms the greatest opposition to legalization of Texas gambling. It is those gambling interests from adjoining states.
I know for a fact that gaming interests from Louisiana have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on lobbyists fighting legalization of gaming in Texas. I am also personally familiar with a group of lobbyists employed by the Indian gaming interest out of Oklahoma who do what they can to make sure Texas does not compete with Oklahoma for gambling dollars.
I once thought the best way to promote good government and intelligent voters was for our media outlets to widely publish how members of the Legislature voted. I am now satisfied, however, that on most important issues, anyone who listens to any television news or occasionally reads the newspapers knows pretty much how the various elected officials vote. At this point, if the news media would now publish who gave our elected officials how much and when, the general public would be much better equipped to make intelligent choices.
Billions of dollars are being spent by lobbyists in each election cycle, both at the federal and state level, and were the voting public to be fully aware of the source of such funds I daresay it would change many attitudes about why some issues pass and many issues fail. The influence of money on public policy has only gotten worse with the Supreme Court’s decision of Citizens United. The last presidential race set a record in money spent on any election--perhaps in the whole world--and will only get worse with super-pacs and rich folks scrambling to see who can buy which politician.