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Leave decision up to voters

The proposal to bring gambling to Texas brings to mind many pros and cons about having casinos accessible to residents of the Lone Star State.

We believe most Texans have their own lists of pros and cons — and solid reasons about why or why not they think Texas should introduce gambling. This qualifies Texas residents to make the decision about whether they want gambling.

We aren’t weighing in at this time about whether casinos should be built in Texas, but believe Texans should have the ability to cast their votes and decide. Senate Joint Resolution 64, from Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot for residents to do just that.

Texans apparently are spending a lot of their disposable income already in gambling casinos in other states. Carona said Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana rake in nearly $3 billion from Texas each year.

That is money going to help pay for roads, schools and hospitals in other states, he said.

The senator said the adoption of casino gambling would create tens of thousands of jobs — one estimate is 75,000 jobs — in addition to the money it would bring to the Texas treasury. The legislation proposes 20 percent of the gaming revenue go to the state.

That all sounds nice, but we reserve the right to skepticism. What is the standard being used to estimate the number of jobs that will be created, and how many of those jobs will be ones with substantial incomes and not minimum wage employment?

As far as the money we are told will be flowing into state coffers, we need some more specifics.

Where would the money be going, and how will it be spent? Will it go into the state’s general fund? The Rainy Day Fund? How will the accounting of the money be conducted?

We recall when a state lottery was pitched to Texas voters, the implication was made the money would benefit education in Texas. More specifics were needed then, too.

On the negative side of gambling in Texas is the concern about casino customers who simply can’t afford to be gambling or those with gambling problems or addictions.

Some of those people already are going out of state for their games of chance, but others who aren’t currently gambling could be inclined to spend money they can ill afford to lose if the casinos were more convenient.

The thought of people spending money for their kids’ Christmas presents or new school clothes to gamble is pretty unpleasant.

In the past, from issues ranging from alcohol sales inside the city limits to Imagine Lubbock Together’s proposal for temporary sales tax increases to fund local improvements, we favored voters making the decisions.

The voters of Texas are capable of deciding for themselves the positive and negative points of casino gambling in the state, and they should be allowed to make the decision.

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal