CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — State politicians are preparing to head into the next legislative session in 2023. In anticipation, bills are being introduced. One of those is a constitutional amendment to legalize casinos and sports betting. The bill was submitted by state Senator Carol Alvarado out of the Houston area.
The amendment would create the Texas Gaming Commission to be the regulatory agency. It would establish four casino resorts in major Texas cities that have over two million people. The bill specifies there are different levels to gaming licenses and a lower license would allow gambling in smaller cities across Texas.
A couple Corpus Christi City Council members agreed the legalization of gambling could be a benefit to the community.
“I think if it’s properly regulated it could be a really good thing for the communities," said Councilman John Martinez. "It brings in additional revenue sources, so that the cities and the counties and state don’t have to raise taxes.”
“I think if we had an organized process, so that way a regulated process where these places could be vetted, it’s handled by the legislature," said Councilman Roland Barrera There’s a regulatory agency that reviews it.”
The bill calls for taking the revenue and taxes from gambling and putting them towards education and public safety. Once discussions start that can always be altered. The councilman expressed what they think the money is needed for if Corpus Christi were to benefit.
“We’ve always had an issue funding our education," said Barrera. "We’ve had issues funding our roads, a lot of our infrastructure. Right now a big challenge that we’re facing here in Corpus Christi is water.”
“There are a lot of other issues within the city that hopefully could be addressed with it," Martinez said. "Some of our homeless issues that we have here hopefully could be dealt with some of that money. As well as some mental health issues.”
What negatives could be associated with the introduction of gambling?
Barrera said game rooms have always been a problem by attracting criminal behavior. But he believes if there's regulation on gambling, it would cut down on the attraction of crime.
Martinez believes funds raised could be used to address any negative outcomes.
“With the money that we do get, I think that it’s important that the issues that could arise with gambling, gambling addiction, depression, things like that are properly addressed," Martinez said. "And, that there are resources that are available in the event that does happen.”
The earliest you could see something on a ballot is the November 2023 election.
The next legislative session begins Jan. 10, 2023.