Category: Gambling

‘Redemption machines’ for Texas?

I received the following e-mail from Weston Ware, of Texans Against Gambling, yesterday [his bold]:

“It’s Day One [of the legislative session], and so far, at least <strong>11 gambling bills have been filed in the Texas Legislature</strong>, including Senate Bill 309 and House Bill 75, to legalize slot machines (or, as the bill calls them “Amusement Redemption Machines”). They are joined by House Bill 73 and Senate Bill 311, which clear the way for video slots or video lottery terminals (VLTs) by redefining what’s currently legal or allowed in Texas.”

What really caught my attention was the ridiculous euphemism, “Amusement Redemption Machines.” The gambling industry wants to make a killing in Texas, and they’ll do just about anything, including spend a fortune in lobbying, to get the chance to reach deeper into Texas pockets.

Why keep fighting these big-monied interests? 1) It’s bad for the people of Texas and tears at the moral fiber that holds a society together, and 2) We’ve been winning this battle against the spread of gambling and these are still winnable fights if we stay aware and communicate with our representatives.

(Originally published by me on the We Are Texas Baptists blog on this date.)

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‘Play to extinction’

Weston Ware, of Texans Against Gambling, sent out the following in an e-newsletter, and I thought it worth sharing:

“Every feature of a slot machine – its mathematical structure, visual graphics, sound dynamics, seating and screen ergonomics – is calibrated to increase a gambler’s “time on device” and to encourage “play to extinction,” which is industry jargon for playing until all your money is gone.”

This observation by gambling researcher Natasha Schull, of MIT, sums up the findings of her most recent work, <em>Machine Zone: Technology and Compulsion in Las Vegas</em>, to be published in 2009. It’s a book based on compulsive gamblers and the engineers who design modern slot machines.

We are sharing this with you to underscore the importance of building citizen opposition to expanding gambling in Texas. Video gambling terminals (aka slot machines) will be at the core of any push in Texas.

(Originally published by me on the We Are Texas Baptists blog on this date.)

Tribes seeking return to casinos

Two Native American tribes have hired “prominent Austin lobbyists and consultants, some with close ties to Republican Gov. Rick Perry,” in an effort to get casino gambling restored to their tribal lands, according to an Associated Press <a href=”http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6163155.html”>story</a&gt; in the Houston Chronicle.

In 2002, both tribes’ casinos were closed  by court orders sought by then-Attorney General John Cornyn.

The BGCT’s Christian Life Commission, working with Texans Against Gambling, has done a great job in recent years helping limit the spread of gambling in Texas. Gambling is a seriously flawed approach to state government finance, and it causes untold economic damage to communities and families. Quite simply, the only thing that benefits from the gambling industry is the gambling industry, plus the politicians it supports.

While the CLC is a great voice against the spread of gambling, our individual voices with our state representatives and senators are extremely important.

(Originally published by me on the We Are Texas Baptists blog on this date.)

Gambling industry gearing up

A Dec. 26 story in the Austin American-Statesman talks about ailing horse and dog racing tracks and reveals that industry’s plans to try to expand gambling in Texas by influencing the political process.

“Texans for Economic Development, the umbrella group for track owners, breeders and other segments of the racing industry, has budgeted $1 million to contribute to campaigns in next year’s [2008] legislative races and $2 million for a lobbying effort to persuade the Legislature and Texans that the industry needs slot machines at tracks to survive.”

“It’s not about Democrats and Republicans; it’s not about the speaker’s race,” said Tommy Azopardi, the group’s president. “It’s not anything other than, ‘Are you for (VLTs (slot machines) or not.’ ”

Then there’s a New York Times story that refers to a new type of lottery game now being pushed.

“With the popularity of traditional lotteries waning across the country, many states are turning to instant games priced at $20, $30 and as high as $50 to lure new players and raise revenue.

“Scratch-off tickets, for example, now account for more than 75 percent of lottery sales in Texas, which this year became the first state to introduce a $50 scratch-off game.”But critics in Texas and elsewhere say games promising this kind of instant gratification are more likely to contribute to the kind of problem gambling that is usually associated with fast-paced casino betting, and they are now trying to limit them.

“They say the games take particular advantage of the most vulnerable members of society, including the poor and members of minority groups.”

These stories are a reminder that the gambling industry never sleeps. Money is at stake; or, rather, that industry’s ability to make money off of regular folks. Almost all informed people know that the gambling industry’s rhetoric about economic and educational development is simply hogwash. Texans, led by the BGCT’s Suzii Paynter, have done a great job in recent years in stopping the spread of gambling. Something tells me this will be a never-ending task.

(Originally published by me on the We Are Texas Baptists blog on this date.)