Oklahoma benefits from gambling Texans? No argument here, says advocacy group

By Karen Brooks Harper
3:21 pm on April 2, 2013 | Permalink

A Texas group pushing for a statewide referendum on expanding gambling in the Lone Star State could not agree more with a recent report that Oklahoma gaming would suffer if it were to pass.

Why? Because then all those dollars would stay in Texas.

In fact, a new study released today by the group Let Texans Decide shows that Texans are responsible for some $2.96 billion in gambling revenues to Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana each year – 38.6 percent of their collective gambling revenues – money they say should stay in Texas.

That number climbs to $4.37 billion per year when you throw in food, lodging and other expenditures Texans fork over when visiting the other states to gamble.

The study was done by TXP, a 25-year-old Texas-based economic group.

“Texas is hemorrhaging money and our horse industry is under assault while tracks in other states with expanded gaming offer more lucrative purses,” said John T. Montford, chairman of Let Texans Decide. “We offer a simple proposition: let Texans decide if they want to keep their dollars in Texas to the benefit of our state.”

In the DMN post about Oklahoma, economist Alan Meister warned that while Oklahoma is the No. 3 gambling state in the nation, that’s not necessarily a permanent position if Texas were to, say, start allowing casinos. Read that post here.

“If casinos were ever allowed in Texas it could be very bad for some Oklahoma tribes,” Meister said. Oklahoma’s WinStar World Casino has the one of the largest gambling floors in the world, owned by the Chickasaw Nation, which incidentally also would benefit from the legislation pushed by LTD because they own Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.

But that’s exactly the type of information that should convince lawmakers to pass a package of legislation designed to let voters in Texas decide whether to allow more gaming at racetracks.

Those bills are:

  • SJR 64 by Senator John Carona, R-Dallas, would expand gaming at existing dog and horse tracks, and allow for the creation of a limited number of destination, resort casinos.
  •  SJR 36 by Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, would allow dog and horse tracks to add slot machines.
  • HJR 121 by Representative Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, also would allows slots at existing tracks.
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