Texas' budget crisis ups the ante on gambling


HOUSTON — Lobbyists, opponents and casino owners believe Texas' massive budget crisis could give proposals to legalize gambling their best chance in years for approval.

They say the $15 billion budget gap that has nearly every institution in the state bracing for massive cuts could make the revenues from gambling too tempting for this Legislature to ignore.

Legislative consultant Chuck McDonald has represented gambling supporters and opponents. Now, he would wager some long-time opponents may support gaming to lessen cuts.

As a result, some groups opposed to gambling are preparing numbers to argue for better and different ways the state could make money.

Casino owner Tilman Fertitta says gambling revenue would not fill the budget gap, but would lessen the blow of the upcoming cuts, including those expected for public education.