By Trey Ware
July 1, 2010
The House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee will meet on July 8th to discuss gambling expansion. The issue is picking up steam as lawmakers try to deal with an $18 billion shortfall in the state's budget. Proponents say $1 to $3 billion is being lost to other states who allow video terminals and casinos.
I'm not a gambler. I could care less whether gambling is expanded in Texas. What interests me about the gambling debate is the issue of self control.
Gambling opponents express concern over people gambling their hard-earned money away. They say the majority of people who gamble are those who can least afford to lose money. That might be true, but isn't it their money? If they want to "waste" it on gambling, shouldn't that be their business?
The answer is yes and no.
Yes because people should be allowed to spend their hard-earned discretionary dollars where they choose, (as long as it's legal). No because people who are teetering on the brink might be shoved over into government dependence by their own fiscal irresponsibility. That is when it becomes our business.
Will Texas make more money if gambling is expanded? Probably. Will we pay more in government subsidies? Maybe. Texas lawmakers must now decide if the payoff is worth the risk.