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Photo by Frankie Stein

Economists Discuss What Casinos Would Bring To Texas

Thursday, April 13, 2023

With new conversations surrounding a Texas house bill that would legalize sports betting and casinos, economists are weighing in on how this would affect Texas. 

Economists do see how this change in legislation would impact the state, especially in Central Texas. 

Dr. Rob Tennant, professor at Texas A&M Central Texas, says that the addition of casinos in rural areas, such as Central Texas, would prove to have positive effects for the economy. 

"If a casino comes to an area that doesn't have them and there aren't casinos in, like, adjoining counties, the realization is more substantial, and, in more rural situations, what it does is it tends to create a significant number of new jobs," said Tennant. "It tends to increase salaries, wages in those communities, and it can bring people in from the surrounding communities to those venues."

Texas as a whole, however, may not see the same impact. Tennant reminds that casinos could "cannibalize the business." In other words, the money that was used to bet on horses or in the lottery would just shift to the casinos--not creating new gambling dollars. 

Although, with so many Texans going across state lines to gamble at casinos, the legalization would decrease how much money leaves the state. 

House Bill 1942 was composed by Representative Jeff Leach, R-Plano. The bill would allow regulation of sports betting, making Texas the 30th state to do so. House Bill 2834, proposed by Representative John Kuempel, R-Seguin, would allow for gambling in Texas. 

Opposers of the bill do, however, raise concern over the legalization. The Polaris Project, an organization that assists sex and labor trafficking victims in finding the help they need, explains the correlation with casinos and trafficking. 

Polaris identified that most sex trafficking operations take place in casinos and nightclubs. With Texas being among the three U.S. states with the most human trafficking activity, this is a significant concern. The likelihood of casinos serving as a cover for sex traffickers is not something to be taken lightly and that reality needs to be taken in consideration.

What do you think? Should Texas legalize gambling and sports betting? Let us know by taking our brief survey. You can find our survey here or by clicking the button above! 

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