Gambling in Galveston County has been a heavily debated issue for years. However, gaming in the area could become a reality again if one of the lawmakers in the state can effectively persuade voters. The gaming proposal promises to be beneficial to homeowners who have property on the Texas Gulf Coast. These homeowners have to pay for hurricane insurance, which could be very costly.
Louisiana’s Golden Nugget owner, Tilman Fertitta, isn’t involved in Texas’ decision. However, Fertitta did tell ABC13 that he supports gambling in the state of Texas. The casino owner also stated if gambling isn’t done correctly, it shouldn’t be done. Several people ABC13 spoke with agree with Fertitta.
Aldir Toledo, a resident of Houston stated, “The closer, the better,” in regards to gambling in Texas. Toledo says, “Yeah that would be perfect.” Several other residents in the area agree.
More about the Gambling Bill
Individuals living in South Texas may not have to travel far for gambling in the near future. Representative Joe Deshotel, a Democratic who hails from Beaumont, is trying to get support for the bill. The passing of the law will permit the building and operation of casinos in certain Texas counties.
Deshotel is in support of House Bill 494. The bill is a way to generate more funds for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. The association provides extra insurance protection for residents in areas prone to hurricanes. Deshotel told ABC13, “The voters will have to make the ultimate decision, but this bill, if passed, would give the voters an opportunity to vote on the casino here in the state of Texas.”
If House Bill 494 is approved, The Texas Lottery Commission will be able to issue six casino licenses for Galveston, Nueces, and Jefferson counties. The commission will also have the power to approve horse and dog tracks and Bexar and Harris counties.
While the benefits of passing the bill are clear, there are some people who don’t agree with it.
Oklahoma resident Chris Reed states, “I do live in Oklahoma, and I have seen where the proposed money from gambling was supposed to be used for something else and it wasn’t.” This is why some people are skeptical about legalizing gaming.
Agnes Donnelly, who lives in Galveston, isn’t exactly in favor of the proposed bill either. “I see it more as an addiction, she states, “because there are a lot of people who are addicted to gambling. Also, addicted to the card games and slot machines. There’s other ways to get the money for it.”
The History of Gambling in Galveston
Gambling may be controversial in Galveston now but from 1918 to 1957, Galveston Island was a pretty wild city. Gambling was big business in the city, even if the business was illegal. Smuggling, bootlegging, and prostitution were common in the area during this time as well.
During the 1940s and 1950, the area was known as the “Free State of Galveston.” The Balinese Room, run by brothers Sam and Rose Maceo, was a gambling spot and supper club that was an extremely lucrative business. It was one of the most popular establishments on the Gulf Coast.
A number of people who now live in Texas see the Galveston of the past as an era that can’t repeat itself. In 1947, Life magazine even referred to Galveston as the “last surviving sin city.” However, the new proposed bill could change all that.
In a 2009 Houston Press article, Galveston was referred to as the possible site for the Texas version of Atlantic City. This is largely because this region of Texas and Atlantic City in New Jersey has similar topography. Atlantic City was the only American island that permitted gambling a decade ago. Of course, this is changing and getting mixed reviews from citizens all over the country.
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