Texas lawmakers considering a payday loan from casino interests


Though they consider it a payday loan to the budget, legislators may approve gambling in Texas. Image: Flickr / jimg944 / CC-BY

There is a new Texas legislature convening soon. This legislature will be facing a huge budget deficit. Casino interests are trying to get the legislature to allow casinos in the state to give a short-term loan to the state budget.

Texas gambling interests

Lawmakers in Texas are going to be convening their new session in just a few weeks. The legislature will be facing a budget deficit of $20 billion or more. While meeting in Fort Worth, lawmakers will have to increase revenue or decrease spending through program cuts — neither of which are going to be easy or popular. Gambling interests are trying to get the legislature to legalize gambling within the state as a way to meet that budget deficit.

Previous attempts to legalize Texas gambling

Lawmakers have considered legalizing gambling within Texas state lines before. Last time, gambling interests tried to push through a bill that would have legalized gambling within the state. Despite a rider that would have devoted gambling revenue to college scholarships, the bill was soundly defeated. Many lawmakers say that casinos are more than a short term loan to the budget. Some consider casinos and gambling to be a payday loan that has to be paid back with increases in law enforcement and social services.

How Texas gambling would work

If the Texas legislature passes a bill to legalize gambling, it would not happen immediately. First, the Texas constitution would have to be changed. Second, a significant amount of gambling revenue would be earmarked as a way to help fund higher education. Third, gambling would be put up for a public vote, and would likely be limited to individual municipalities, such as Irving and Tarrant County. Lobbyists are unsure whether the Texas gambling bill will make it through the legislature, but the desperate need of short term loans for the budget may give it a better chance of passing.


Miami Herald

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