Naked City

Republicans roll the dice on gambling

Back in January, state Republican leaders were either bluffing or extraordinarily clueless when they dismissed gambling as an all-but-dead issue at the Lege. Of course, popular wisdom holds that they were bluffing. Why else would there be 16 casino-related bills pending in various committees if one of them wasn't expected to make it out of the starting gate? What mattered most to the Republicans was that the chosen bill's sponsor have a "D" instead of an "R" next to his name.

To the rescue comes Rep. Kino Flores, D-Palmview, whose most recently revised gaming legislation – HB 9 – appears to be the proposal of choice, borne out by the bill's low number and last week's addition of four co-authors, including Republican Reps. Terry Keel of Austin and Jim Pitts of Waxahachie, who also chairs the House Appropriations Committee. Both Pitts and Flores have filed proposed constitutional amendments that would put the gambling question to voters in November.

With everything falling into place on the gaming front (Flores' bill appeases both slot machine proponents and casino interests), the Texas Republican Party is fit to be tied. It had hoped to paint this as an immoral Democratic issue, but there's no getting around the fact that Republicans are betting on gambling to pay the bills. The party line remains the same, however. "We've been very clear that there is no wiggle room in the party platform on gambling," says state GOP spokeswoman Sherry Sylvester. "Even for funding education, we just think it's a bad idea." Moreover, she says, the party opposes turning gambling into a ballot issue. "The people of Texas quite deliberately put a Republican majority [in the Legislature] so they can make the decisions. That's what the people of Texas elected them to do."

Judging by the House playbook, it looks like they've decided to let voters decide. (Maybe the GOP should consider writing "political courage" into its platform.) Meanwhile, the state GOP will team up with other groups for an anti-gambling rally next Thursday, March 31, at 11am at the Capitol.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond

    Naked City

    Injunction puts brakes on anti-choice rider

    Naked City

    Did you know an educated Chinaman knows 2,000 symbols and can draw them?
  • Naked City

    Violates Eighth Amendment, Judge Says

    Naked City

    House committee approves bill helping "cocktail napkin" applications skirt regulation

    Naked City

    Attempts at decriminalizing, or at least lessening punishment, in Texas and elsewhere

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Amy Smith
Well-Behaved? Let's Assume Not.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story
Barbara Leaming's new biography makes the case that Jackie O suffered from PTSD

Nov. 28, 2014

Section 8 Reopens
Section 8 Reopens
Hurry up ... and wait!

Oct. 3, 2014


slot machines, Kino Flores, Jim Pitts, Terry Keel, Sherry Sylvester, Texas Republican Party

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle