We've officially known it was coming for a couple of months now, and we've assumed as much since forever, but yesterday marked the first official volley in the biennial battle to legalize gambling in Texas.
State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, filed a resolution yesterday that proposes a constitutional amendment -- which would require approval by voters -- establishing a state gaming commission to oversee casinos that would be allowed on coastal barrier islands greater than 25 miles in length (Galveston, in other words), at horse and greyhound tracks, and in cities of 675,000 or more. She described a similar bill filed last session as a partial solution to Texas' massive budget shortfall.
Alvarado's is the first of a slew of bills that will be considered in the coming legislative session, if history is any guide, but it's not the official gambling push.
That will come from whatever legislation is backed by Let Texans Decide, the high profile, pro-gambling legalization group du jour. That bill hasn't yet been filed, said LTD spokesman Matt Lavigne, and it's still unclear at this point what the group will push for, whether it will be limited to slot machines at race tracks or full-fledged casinos. So far, the organization has limited itself to promoting studies showing the economic benefits of legalizing gambling and penning op-eds. In other words, the battle lines are still being drawn.