Think back to when you were a child. You saw something in the store that you wanted and mom and dad said no. They told you that if you wanted it you were going to have to pay for it. Depending on your particular situation, you may have taken on a paper route, lemonade stand, or mowed lawns. Along with those were the stories your parents told you when they were young.
My grandfather was a perpetual entrepaneur. He ran a Christmas tree lot every winter and told the boys (my father and uncles) that every tree they sold the last two days (December 23rd and 24th) was theirs. My uncle sold an older woman a tree which he called a "Golden Tipped Scotch Pine". The tree was obviously dying, but she paid him the then considerable sum of $20 for the tree. Now, whether you consider that creative salesmanship or something else is your business.
Stories of work always outweighed stories of thrift and they produced more pride. Earning a luxury item through hard work is more satisfying then earning it through coupon clipping. This isn't to demean coupon clipping. My wife does it and is very militant about it. Yet, it just doesn't provide them same thrill of selling, working, or simply earning. Now, let that be the backdrop for this particular debate.
Texas is at a crossroads like many states. Revenues are not matching expenditures. At that crossroads they can try to cut programs down to the bone. They can institute a state income tax or alter an already existing tax (say sales), or they could look behind door number three. The possibility of legalized gambling in Texas seemed remote, but it is gaining momentum with the people and especially so when people see how much Texans spend on gambling in Louisiana alone.
So, why the hold up? The battle for the soul of the Republican party is about as interesting a phenomenom as there is in politics. Social conservatives don't want any part of gambling. Fiscal conservatives see it as the lesser of three evils. Since they currently control every level of state government, they will be the deciding factor in all of this. Which direction does the party go and who wins in the battle for their soul?
Casinos do two very important things for Texas. First, it brings in tons of tax dollars and many of those could come from people not from Texas. More importantly though, it puts thosands of Texans to work. You have the gaming industry itself, but you have peripheral benefits as well. New hotels may have to go in those particular destinations. New restaurants will have to go in the casinos and some on the outside. Then, you have the entertainment industry as well.
There are downsides to be sure. Crime seems to be higher in communities that have gambling. This is particularly true in Nevada where it is more prevalent. Some communities have shunned it altogether for that reason. Furthermore, locations have to be picked carefully. Harrah's in New Orleans has been a bust while Shreveport and Lake Charles have been successful. Yet, these problems can be mitigated with good planning.
Like with most things, the hyperfocus on morality is misplaced. Drinking, gambling, dancing, and other "sinful" activities are not actually sinful when done in moderation. God threw in that proverbial "to excess" clause when looking at all of those things. Don't tell that to some folks though, they haven't gotten that far in the Cliff Notes yet. So, Austin, what will be? Taxes, Scroogeland, or gambling. The choice is yours.