While some might argue over who had the most success in the primary, one special interest group seems to be languishing in defeat. A Las Vegas newspaper reports that the chances of expanding casino operations in Texas may have suffered a bust on Tuesday.

“The prospects for casino expansion in Texas apparently took a hit this week,” wrote Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In summarizing what the primary election results mean for the gambling special interests, Stutz notes that three of Speaker Straus’ allies – Reps. Vicki Truitt, Rob Eissler, and Tuffy Hamilton – were defeated by “anti-gaming conservatives.”

As Bill Lerner of the Union Gaming Group said, “This certainly doesn’t bode well for future passage of gaming expansion.”

That may be a setback for special interests, but for taxpayers, it’s going to help keep the floodgates of bigger government from opening wide in 2013.

As we’ve noted in several posts before, expanded gambling comes with the false promise of expanded liberty and “new revenues”. Only established gambling cronies with open checkbooks for legislators in charge of the licensing process would be granted authority to operate their casinos – not regular Joe’s looking to start up a new small business venture. This “cronyism” as it’s better known is not capitalism at all. In fact, it’s the antithesis of a free market for a government-run gambling commission to have the power to pick winners and losers.

Likewise, if gambling was expanded in Texas, it would actually be a net loss in revenue – bringing in approximately $1 for every $3 the state and local governments would expend for increased public safety and social services that accompany gambling.

And let’s not forget about the last magic bullet for funding public education: the Texas Lottery. It only funds three days worth of public school operations in the state!

Bigger government + cronyism + lost revenue = a losing hand for taxpayers.

The fact that several of Speaker Straus’ committee chairs lost last Tuesday, including his pro-gambling chair of the House Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee, should give taxpayers a sigh of relief – at least temporarily.

Given the time-crunch for Texas’ gambling interests like Retama Park (owned by Straus’ family) to pass expanded gambling or continue losing money, taxpayers can bet the casino and slot machine lobby isn’t ready to fold. Make sure your legislator is ready to call their bluff this next legislative session.

Dustin Matocha

Dustin Matocha is the CFO and COO of Texas Scorecard. Dustin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in Management, a BA in Government, and a minor in Marketing. He’s a self-described Corvette enthusiast, baseball purist, tech geek and growing connoisseur of local craft beer.