MT. LEBANON, Texas (ABP) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry wants to introduce a new level of gambling in the state, and a Baptist legislative expert says it is opening the door to casino-type gaming.
The governor's school finance proposal includes support for Video Lottery Terminals at horse racing tracks and on land owned by native American tribal groups in Texas. Perry's plan calls for the machines to generate $2 billion over the next three years, based on a projection of 18,000 machines being made available to the public.
Suzii Paynter, director of citizenship education and public policy for the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, said the machines are much more than lottery terminals. A player can access an electronic version of virtually any casino game, including slot machines.
If the VLT plan is approved, Paynter said “racinos” will be coming to Texas. “Slot barns” containing 1,000-5,000 video slot machines will spout at the state's 10 racetracks and on tribal lands.
“The VLT proposal opens the door in Texas to Class 3 gambling,” Paynter said.
In Texas, gambling is divided into three classes. Classes 1 and 2 cover social games, Bingo, the state lottery and parimutuel gambling. Class 3 refers to all other gambling.
Paynter said VLTs are bad for two primary reasons – the addiction that comes with it and its role as a gateway to other forms of gambling.
A study by the gambling commission in Louisiana showed that 30 percent of all gambling revenues come from pathological addiction, she said.
“The social costs are very high,” Paynter said. “It brings with it addiction, bankruptcy and crime. In this industry, addiction is not incidental; it's essential to the business.”
Video slots also have a “cannibalizing effect” on the consumer economy, she said. “All the money that goes into a gambling machine comes out of the consumer economy.” Video gambling doesn't create new wealth or products nor have the multiplying effects helped other industries.
They will create a few jobs but not many and not high wages, Paynter said.
In fact, 20 percent of the money will leave the state, some going to “off-shore” enterprises, she noted.
“This also would be a community rip-off,” said Phil Strickland, director of the CLC. “For every dollar the state collects in revenue, our communities will pay $3 to take care of the social consequences.”
Introducing VLTs in Texas will require two-thirds approval of a constitutional amendment before it can be placed on the November general election ballot.