Tuesday, April 12, 2011

History of Gambling Push and Social Concerns

Legalizing gambling in Texas isn’t a new issue to legislative discussion. During times of economic hardship throughout our state’s history, the issue of expanding gaming laws has always been discussed, and, for the most part, shut down. Traditionally opposed to gaming expansion, Texas first expanded its gaming policy in 1986 to allow a vote for para-mutuel betting in a 1987 referendum. Simply put, this allowed for the creation of horse and dog tracks. Opponents of legalized gaming in Texas, specifically Texans Against Gambling, are quick to note that para-mutuel betting has not delivered the revenue its proponents promised. According to the Texans Against Gambling website, they view para-mutuel gambling as a “dismal failure.” In 1991, Texans again voted to allow the creation of the Texas Lottery. Since then, all initiatives to expand gaming in Texas have been shut down in Legislature.

The legalization of gambling may be a way to raise revenue streams, but on a personal level it can have devastating consequences. I have a family member, who lives in a state where gambling is legal, that struggled with gambling addiction. I was around 10 years old when it happened, so I wasn’t told the specifics of the situation, but from what I overheard and was told he lost somewhere around $50,000 over a 6 month time-span. It started with trips to casinos with friends, and over time evolved into him going alone to the casinos to try and regain what was lost. The situation almost tore his marriage apart, as well as his financial situation. He made the choice to start attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings, and save his marriage and family, and overcame his urges to gamble. Talking about it recently, he put it into perspective, in that “the thought of losing [his] family was 100 times worse than any amount [he] could lose while gambling,” which motivated him to stop. It has been over a decade since he last gambled, and is still happily married. This is not to say that everyone who gambles will become addicted, but there are some people with personality types that are more vulnerable to this sort of addiction.

For more information about the pros and cons to legalizing gambling in Texas, check out this link:  http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/default/article/PRO-CON-Should-Texas-Legislature-legalize-casino-747623.php

-Ian Cannon

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