Proposal to Legalize Gambling in Texas Stirs Mixed Emotions in Panhandle Area - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

03.09.07

Proposal to Legalize Gambling in Texas Stirs Mixed Emotions in Panhandle Area

Lawmakers are putting it all on the line, hoping their proposal to legalize gambling in Yexas pays off. 

Legislation to build 12 casino gambling sites in Texas has been filed in Austin. Advocates boast a number of benefits... 
Creating 400,000 jobs, generating billions of dollars, as well as paying tuition for texans to attend universities and community colleges.   

The proposal is stirring mixed emotions in the panhandle. Generating $1 billion per year for higher education is hard to pass up. So those at area colleges are hoping gambling is legalized so they can get a piece of the pie. That sound is music to the ears of the 240,000 potential students who could afford their education if casinos are built in Texas.

   
"Half of our enrollment is on financial aid or some kind and that includes financial aid from the state. So any increased financial aid from the state would be a real benefit to our students," says Kay Mooney, the director of financial aid at Amarillo College.
   But there are many others in the community we spoke with who are staunchly against gambling and think legislators are using education as a front to get it passed.
 "Regarding the promise to giving this money for education, it looks like a bate and switch, it's a big number they throw out and may or may not actually follow through on that," says Jeff Raines, an associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Amarillo.


  Legislators say casinos in Texas would slow the flow of gambling money that leaves the state and increase tourism.
   But Raines thinks that's another ploy, far from the truth.
"Most of their business comes from those who live 50 miles away rather than pulling in growth from the outside, really I think we'd just be hurting our own people and increasing addiction," says Raines.


  In the meantine, those in education aren't holding their breath.
 "They're going to have to legalize gambling first, so it depends on what voters say, so it could be a ways down the road, and it's not something we can plan on for the immediate future," says Mooney.
  Texans spend an estimated $10 billion every year gambling, some of it in other states, and some of it illegally in Texas through eight-liners and on the internet.

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