The day before four Texas lawmakers introduced legislation in March that would permit nine casinos to operate in several of Texas' major cities, legalized gambling proponents displayed a statewide poll showing that a majority of Texas voters want casinos.
The survey of 1,006 Texas residents was conducted in early February with 75 percent of the respondents reacting favorably to legalizing casinos. Gaming is being proposed as a way to fund the state's deficit, finance education and provide jobs.
The measure must pass both houses of the Texas Legislature by a two-thirds vote and then be placed in front of voters.
The effort is not the first time Texas casinos have been proposed, but opponents to gaming have prevailed each time.
But this time the current economic climate might make gaming more palatable to lawmakers despite opposition from religious groups.
“Our breadth of support cuts across all lines of gender, race and party,” said Tommy Azapardi, executive director of Texans for Economic Development. “In these economic times, voters are very motivated by the 53,000 new jobs and the billion dollars a year for state coffers racinos could generate for the state.”
The survey also highlighted Texans’ dissatisfaction over losing billions every year to racinos in neighboring states.
Texans also believe it to be a priority to preserve and grow the state’s horse industry, which is in decline because neighboring states use gaming proceeds to boost purses at their racetracks.
Informed support ranges from 68 percent of conservative Republicans to 84 percent of moderate/liberal Democrats. In addition, 77 percent of African-Americans, 73 percent of Anglos, and 79 percent of Hispanics favor slot machines at the tracks and on Indian reservations, according to the survey.