It’s hard to see how the legislature can balance the budget without revenue from expanded gambling, meaning that gambling is quite likely to pass the Texas Legislature this year. Yesterday, Paul Burka posted the spin from one prominent gambling lobbyist. But not all gambling interests are the same, and frequently they end up fighting each other the hardest. Here’s the (slightly edited) perspective of another prominent gambling lobbyist who represents a different interest:
Paul Burka was told that by the lobbyist that Chairman Hamilton was going to move a bill today that included all different gambling interests (they referred to it as the whole enchilada bill). However, the vote counts came back devestatingly low for the proposal to add slot machines at bingo halls and casinos all over the state. But the numbers were much much better for slots at tracks and Indian reservations. Hamilton wanted to move a bill, so he just decided – on his own – to do this. Everyone was caught very much by surprise, as we thought the bill was dead [Friday]. The speaker’s office is as surprised as anyone.
We were scrambling to figure out what he passed out, as we thought the bill was toast, because the original bill had all this other stuff in it that we knew he couldn’t get the votes for. Despite that, we tried to help him pass it but the vote count wasn’t even close a majority.
The lobbyist I talked to claims that Hamilton’s current bill is only a few votes short of the 100 necessary to pass a gambling bill. That might be why the jilted side is trying to implicate Straus – to try and make it tougher for the bill to pass.
Paul Burka’s closing line was snappy, “Things seldom happen in the Capitol by chance. Even gambling.” According to the other side, he was fooled by randomness.