Texas Hold ’Em or Texas Fold ’Em?

It’s time for Texans to decide if casinos fit into our future

by , Nov 25, 2009 | 6:01 am

Hank Gilbert


Over the course of my campaign for governor, I’ve had a lot of people come up to me to ask me about gambling issues in Texas. In particular, I had a gentleman the other day approach me and ask me how I felt about the fact that you can’t even play Texas Hold ’Em—at least for money—in Texas.

I told him I thought it was sad that our state leaked millions upon millions of dollars to Louisiana that could be helping fund Texas public schools.

Yesterday afternoon, I rolled out a three-part plan that will both fund improvements to Texas public schools and allow Texans the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want casino gambling in Texas.

The core of that plan would allow Texas’s existing racetracks (pending voter approval, of course) to operate full casinos (not just VLTs) and allow for the opening of a limited number of destination style resort casinos.

Texans want better public schools. And, according to a poll taken earlier this year, Texans want to be able to play Texas Hold ‘Em (and other casino games) in Texas.

In short, it is time for Texas to decide if we’re going to hold ’em or fold ’em.

Our state’s current and most recent former governor repeatedly passed the buck on major school finance reform and educational improvements. Yes, they proposed some plans and new taxes, but nothing that generated any really significant new revenue to improve educations.

If voters allow casino gambling in Texas, it will be a source of new revenue to fund improvements to Texas public schools—more than $1.3 billion a year in new revenue, in fact.

Absent any similar new significant revenue stream, Texas public schools will continue down their current path, and we won’t see any major improvements to public education. It’s like folding and walking away from the table when you have a bad hand.

Texans want better public schools. And, according to a poll taken earlier this year, Texans want to be able to play Texas Hold ‘Em (and other casino games) in Texas.

It is a win-win situation. Our schools win. Our communities and cities win because it will be a boon to economic development. The agriculture industry—particularly horse breeders—win. The state wins because it is a new revenue stream for public schools without higher property taxes. Texans win because it creates more jobs and more economic opportunity for Texans.

Hank Gilbert is a Democratic candidate for Texas Governor. Visit his campaign website at HankGilbert.com.

7 Comments to “Texas Hold ’Em or Texas Fold ’Em? ”

  1. lavigneinaustin

    Here Here, Hank!

  2. DanM

    I’m excited to see a major candidate wanting to make poker (and casinos) an issue by addressing it directly in terms of education.

  3. Grunkzzz

    I’m very keen on poker in texas, but I dont like the idea of the horse/dog tracks getting the majority of the action. Or there being other casino games allowed. I think we should model it after california’s poker.

  4. Marvin C

    If we get poker at all, and it’s an 80-20 underdog in my lifetime, it will come to the horse tracks as a way to save them. We will never get California style poker rooms. All of the candidates for gov. with any chance of winning are against gambing in all forms. And we have the elephant in the room with the Oklahoma Indians, who own the third largest, although they call the fifth, casino in the world winning the auction for the Lone Star license with no incentive to bring gambling to Texas. It’s amazing that the third largest casino in the world is at Exit 1 of I 35 in Oklahoma, 90 miles from Fort Worth and Dallas.

    The closest we come is the Speaker of The Hosue, Straus’s family is in the horse track business.

  5. G-Squared

    I have to agree with Marvin C. The powers opposing legalization of poker in Texas are much stronger than those in favor. I fully support Hank Gilbert’s efforts, but until I saw this piece on Pokerati, I didn’t even know he was running for Governor. That is bad considering that Perry and Hutchinson have ads on TV daily.

  6. DanM

    The election is a year away … but agreed, whoever ends up winning the Democratic nomination will have a tough time beating Perry or Hutchison.

    However, I do think the forces opposing us are weaker, not stronger. Most specifically, the Chickasaw (WinStar) buying Lone Star Park is pretty damn big. Because now one of our biggest opponents presumably is switching teams.

    In the end, I do wanna believe the point can finally be made … Texans spend $x majillions on gambling. And do we really want all that money being left on the other side of the Oklahoma and Louisiana borders?

    I know we all know the answer to that question … but the best thing about Gilbert’s candidacy with this position is that it means it’s more likely to be raised as a real and even major issue … which I think we benefit from, even though it will rally the opposition troops.

  7. TexasWolford

    Richard S. Friedman Texans For Kinky 2010 Here: Hank Gilbert has stepped down from the Democratic Primary Governor’s race. We welcome all of Hank Gilbert’s supporters to join Texans for Kinky 2010. Together we can make power to the people a reality.