Gambling bill unites Baptists, racetracks
Yesterday, at the 81st Legislative Bienniel Party in Austin, a bill to expand gambling in Texas was introduced. According to the Star-Telegram,
A bipartisan quartet of lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday to permit nine showcase casinos in major cities.
Although the legislation includes the racing industry’s long-sought goal of installing slot machines at horse and dog tracks, track officials oppose the bill because it would tax slot machines’ revenue at more than twice the rate of casinos’.
Casinos would be taxed at 15 percent and slot-machine revenue at 35 percent.
The articles goes on to say that billions of dollars will go towards scholarships and high schools and transportation and a slew of fat-cats casino operators.
Our good friend and president and general manager of Lone Star Park, Drew Shubeck said that if slot revenue generated at racetracks were taxed at the same rate as casinos, "we wouldn’t have any trouble with it."
The reality of the situation is that the Texas horsemen and racetracks have their own bill in the works: The Texas Horse Tradition Preservation Act.
It’s no secret that Texas racing has been attempting to secure VLTs at racetracks to supplement their purses to be competitive to its neighbors Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Past legislative sessions resulted in various bills being introduced; each horse organization submitted their own version. The bills languished in committee, eventually destined to be recycled as pet bedding for guinea pigs. However, this year the horse industry formed a strong and unified Baptist-free alliance – Texas HORSE (Horse Organizations for Racing, Showing & Eventing). Their bill, to be introduced during this legislative session, pours the money generated by VLTs back into the Texas horse industry, not only racing purses, but also awards for performance horses. Texas HORSE is energized and optimistic. And they have Lyle Lovett featured in their smart new video. I mean, who doesn’t like Lyle Lovett?
So, if you connect the dots, it makes perfect sense that racetracks probably wouldn’t support this casino bill regardless of the proposed taxation but they have a handy excuse. And Baptists won’t support any gaming bill, period.
Which begs this important question: Do Baptists listen to Lyle Lovett?
Interestingly enough, the blog Texas Politics which covers the sundry of on-going antics in Austin, reported that "Texans overwhelmingly support allowing slot machines on Indian reservations and at Texas race tracks." Apparently, 63% of the randomly called registered voters supported expanded gaming in a recent poll.
Which begs another important question: Is there a disproportionate number of Baptists on the 'Do Not Call' List? Or perchance they screen the caller ID to avoid participating in random polls? The Texas Baptist Convention's General Life Commission is a formidable gambling opponent.
I speculate that shortly the Texas Horse Tradition Preservation Act will be introduced. Here’s a sample headline:
Gambling bill unites Baptists, casinos