Former Lt. Governor Bill Hobby once said each session is about money--everything else is merely poetry.
The current session of the Legislature, as most in the past, is struggling with how to keep their campaign promises of taking less tax from the people, while at the same time doing something about our crumbling infrastructure such as highways and bridges, providing decent educational opportunities for our children, and doing something about the millions of uninsured folks that are having to choose between putting food on the table and providing healthcare for their families. Most of these needs are coming in far behind other actions being taken--just so elected folks can claim they have honored their campaign pledge of cutting taxes.
The recent article which caught my eye in a local paper concerning casino gambling talked about casinos just across our eastern border raking in $61.4 million in the past month. Without a doubt about 80% to 90% was donated to the casino industry and to the tax coffers of Louisiana by Texans.
I will say without fear of contradiction that I am not a gambler–casino or otherwise. It seems when I lost my lunch money matching pennies in the 6th grade, gambling lost its allure for me which has never been rekindled. I have visited one of the big casinos in Lake Charles for a function to which I was invited and managed to escape without letting them have any of my money.
While I believe casino gambling to be a sucker’s game in which an individual would seldom if ever win, it is a fact that it does draw thousands of people who are willing to donate their money in the vain hope they will strike at rich at the crap table or hit the jackpot on a slot machine. The point to my observation is that I really don’t think much of gambling of any form. That would include the Texas lottery in which your chance of winning is about the same as getting struck by lightening tomorrow.
While one might make a decent argument--and I could argue against the folly of wasting your money on gambling or risking addiction to a pastime which could lead to family bankruptcy--our current law simply does not prevent gambling. What Texas does in its moral indignity is simply to require people to give their money to Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma or Mexico. We clearly have not prevented anyone in Texas, unless they are without transportation at all, from gambling.
My point is, if Texans are going to gamble and waste their money, why shouldn’t we fix it so that their wastefulness can be beneficial to the rest of their fellow Texans who could use the money to help our schools, highways, or poor folks in need of medical care.