Could Gambling Soon Be Legal In Texas?

Allowing gambling establishments in Texas is becoming a hot debate in Austin.

The Texas Gaming Association has started to hand out pamphlets to lawmakers showing the benefits of legal gaming in the state.

But the future of slot machines ringing in Texas is uncertain.

The state is expecting a multi-billion dollar shortfall so lawmakers are looking at all possibilities.

And the new Speaker Joe Strauss' association to the racetrack industry has many observers thinking legal gaming has a better chance in this session.

But one local representative says he thinks it's still a long-shot to see casinos in the Panhandle.

"By the time you pay the social cost of opening a casino, you more than offset any economic benefit our area would receive," said Amarillo Representative John Smithee.

He added, it's very unlikely to see a strong push in the Panhandle because New Mexico and Oklahoma already have Indian gaming in close proximity.

Local tourism would most likely not benefit, and many casinos rely on slot machines so job growth from casinos would be minimal.

Smithee is also concerned about who casinos attract.

"You have a lot of people out there gambling that are basically recycling welfare dollars," he said.

The Texas Baptist Convention's General Life Commission is expected to repeat the representatives concerns.

They are leading the charge in the capital against legalized gambling.

The speaker is expected to name a new chairman to oversee gambling legislation in the next few weeks.