New Bill Could Bring Legal Betting Back to Galveston, Texas
One Texas lawmaker wants to make gambling legal on Galveston Island, but if he’s successful, it won’t be the first time residents there were able to gamble.
Micheal Berberich, who was a craps dealer in Nevada in the ‘80s, is now a professor at Galveston College. He spoke about the Island’s gambling history with KHOU 11, telling how the illegal Balinese Room and its storied history
“The Balinese Room was built in 1923. It went about 600 feet out into the Gulf. I’d say the first 400 feet were hallways separated by doors. The Rangers would have to slow down to go through each of the doors. And then it gave them time to take the slot machines and dump them over the sides into the water so they were not physically on the premises.”
The Balinese Room was an elite casino and club, and also illegal. It was raided many times. Continuing his story, he said that the Texas Rangers finally shut it down in 1957. Berberich learned all about the history of the casino when he moved to the island. The Balinese Room was destroyed in 2008 by Hurricane Ike.
House Bill 494
Representative Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) is seeking support for House Bill 494, which would allow for casinos in certain counties. One of his reasons for trying to get HB494 passed is to use the tax revenue raised from gambling towards the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.
This is insurance for people living in areas prone to hurricane damage. Revenue will also help catastrophic flooding assistance in the coastal areas. Speaking with ABC13 about the benefits of the bill, Deshotel made the following comments:
“The voters will have to make the ultimate decision, but this bill, if passed, would give the voters an opportunity to vote on the casino here in the state of Texas.”
Texas HB 494 is a partisan bill that was pre-filed on December 7, 2018. It is supported by Joe Deshotel.
If the bill is approved, the Texas Lottery Commission would be permitted to grant six licenses for casinos in Nueces, Jefferson, and Galveston counties and horse or dog tracks in Bear and Harris counties.
Opposition to Legalized Gambling
Oklahoma resident Chris Reed doesn’t think that legal gambling is a good idea:
“I do live in Oklahoma, and I have seen where the proposed money from gambling was supposed to be used for something else and it wasn’t.”
A Galveston resident, Agnes Donnelly, is also against gambling.
“I see it more as an addiction, because there are a lot of people who are addicted to gambling. Also, addicted to the card games and slot machines. There’s other ways to get the money for it.”
It will be interesting to see how state lawmakers feel towards legalized gambling when discussions heat up in 2019. Let’s not forget, the state’s premiere sports team the Dallas Cowboys had to go out of state to find a suitable casino partner.
What About Sports Betting?
We will have to wait and see if sports betting is added to the list of acceptable types of bets if HB494 is passed. Sports betting is a national hot topic where many states are exploring the legalization of it. Texas will definitely come around to this possibility due to the millions of dollars in revenue that it generates each year.
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