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Expanded gambling: Still doomed

The Dallas Morning News does a little checking, and the math isn’t good for gambling fans.

The Dallas Morning News, canvassing all lawmakers, found that expanded gambling lacks the votes, mostly because of objections to social ills and new tax revenue being too far off to help now.

The results may indicate that the Legislature, already facing a host of confrontational issues when it convenes Jan. 11 for the 140-day session, could give short shrift to a gambling debate.

[…]

Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, who heads a key economic committee, said he has turned down a request to carry a casino bill.

“It is highly unlikely that any version [to expand gambling] will be found acceptable by the required number of members in either chamber,” Carona said recently.

[…]

In the House, 115 of the 150 members responded to the gambling question, with 54 saying they would not support its expansion in any form. Only 27 said they favored doing so, and 26 said they were undecided. The rest who were reached declined to comment.

Because of the two-thirds mandate for constitutional amendments, 51 “no” votes would kill the proposal in the House.

In the Senate, 24 of the 31 members responded, with 11 saying they would oppose expanding gambling and six saying they would favor it. The others said they were undecided or declined to comment. Eleven “no” votes would kill the proposal in the Senate.

Asked about the various plans, some of the lawmakers who were counted as favoring gambling said they might be open to allowing slots at existing racetracks under limited circumstances, but would oppose casinos.

I know I’ve beaten this horse many times, but it bears repeating. Gambling expansion is a tough sell, which is why it hasn’t happened after all this time. It’s certainly possible, as suggested by gambling lobbyists and State Sen. Jeff Wentworth elsewhere in the story, that some legislators who are currently opposed to expanded gambling might reconsider once they see what a cut-only budget approach begins to look like. This assumes that they will recoil from such a realization, and I at least am not prepared to make that assumption. I say it’s doomed, and I don’t see any reason to change that assessment.

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