Maybe this Time. Maybe this time, I’ll be lucky

Maybe this Time
Maybe this time, I’ll be lucky
Maybe this time, he’ll stay
Maybe this time
For the first time
Love won’t hurry away
It’s got to happen, happen sometime
Maybe this time I’ll win
Cabaret, John Kander, Fred Ebb 1972

When Liza sings the song in Cabaret, it is very poignant.  Sally Bowles is a young woman who has had many lovers in her life, but never love.  Each time, each new man causes her to wonder, will it be this time?  “Maybe this time, it’s got to happen sometime”  or does it?  It is also a question frequently asked about gaming legislation or new casino development in places where it has failed in the past.  Among those places I put the Philippines, Mexico and now Texas.   It seems they almost get there, but then the lover leaves and the hopeful are left standing alone wondering, “Will it ever happen for me?”

In the Philippines, the promise is doubly confusing by the nature of the press.  The the press in the Philippines is very inflammatory and exaggerated and casinos stories are no different.   Even if the basics of the stories are eventually proven to be correct, the inflated language tests our ability to suspend disbelief when we first read them.  The facts: A new mega-resort casino did just opened in the Philippines; and a couple more are in the works.  However that category, in the works is the most difficult one for me to swallow.   At least monthly, for the last couple of years there has been a story from the Philippines about a casino that would be the casino to end all casinos – “the deal is in the works.”  But then nothing happens; and yet a month or two later a new story, another pipe dream appears  Still, in the end it is happening – maybe a little slower and maybe a little less grandiose than reported but a real casino open and operating nevertheless.  Maybe this time, the tales of casino wonderland in the Philippines are true. Maybe this time.

Mexico is different, but still tests the boundaries of credibility.  Casino gambling is approaching legality, but still has a ways to go.  There are said to be 35 casinos with slot machines located and operating near the American border.  And other forms of gambling horse racing, sports betting and lotteries are legal.  But each year it is an annual ritual to propose enabling casino legislation.  Always, the reports are initially optimistic; but it does not take long before the legislation seems lost in legislative never-never land.  Legislation has been proposed so often one could become quite jaded.  Still it seems there are casinos and some one is licensing them or in some way giving permission to operate; we know that because sometimes permission is withdrawn.  A few months ago, 25 people were torched in a casino by gangs to show the casino owner just who is boss.  Pay the mayor or pay the gang leader, but you must pay to play.  And that is really where casinos in Mexico start to fall into the category of impossible to believe for me, when the gangs and drug warlords control gambling.  People in Mexico gamble, but it simply is not possible for someone sitting in the United States reading the press to determine what is real and legal and what is not – but maybe this time, this year the legislation will pass. Maybe this time.

And that brings me to Texas; Texas is more like Mexico than the Philippines.  First, it is impossible to know what is legal – gambling except horse racing and the lottery – is illegal, but that does not mean there is no gambling.  Take the case of 8-liners, a Texas euphemism for a slot machine; 8-liners are illegal, but only if the local authorities decide to enforce the law.  If the local authorities do not round up the 8-liners and break them in pieces with sledge hammers, then the owners pay their taxes and go about their business.  Texas is also like Mexico in its legislative approach to casino gambling in Texas.  In every legislative session the issue comes up; it is not always introduced by the same interests – sometimes the race track owners are pushing for slot machines at the tracks, sometimes the Indian tribes are pushing for a casino, sometimes cities or counties in financial distress want casino revenues and other times it is just rogue developers looking for an opportunity to make a buck.  Or, like this year, when there numerous groups pushing for legalizing casino-style gambling, but each for something different and favoring a separate special interest group.

Whatever the motivation, one thing is certain, casinos and gambling will be on the legislative agenda and this year is no exception.  However, it has happened so many times before that, except for those introducing the legislation, very few people believe casino legislation can pass in Texas, at least not this year.  But maybe next year Texas will legalize casinos.  Maybe next year will be the time; It’s got to happen, happen sometime. Maybe this time I’ll win.  Poor Sally, you wonder if she didn’t go to her grave singing that song and hoping.

 A proposed constitutional referendum to allow casino gambling in Texas got a boost Monday when a Dallas-area senator announced that interest groups had united behind a measure he introduced at the Texas Legislature.  Republican Sen. John Carona said that big casinos and race tracks had agreed to support his proposed constitutional amendment. If approved by lawmakers and voters, it would allow 21 casinos statewide and create a gambling commission. Chris Tomlinson, Associated Press, 4-9-13

Lawmakers may not pass legislation this session that could help legalize casino gambling in Texas, but they are “inching closer and closer to that day,” state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, said Monday.  At a news conference in the Capitol, Carona and other gaming supporters touted Senate Joint Resolution 64, which would let Texas voters decide on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow casino gambling and provide support for other types of gambling in the state, like horse racing. Carona’s bill is set to go before the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, which he chairs, on Wednesday. Audrey White, Texas Tribune, 4-9-13

A gambling bill unveiled Monday would give El Paso’s Tigua tribe the right to open a casino.   The Tiguas are one of three Indian tribes who would be able to open casinos under Senate Joint Resolution 6, which, if passed by two-thirds of the Legislature, would go to the voters in the form of a constitutional amendment.  The bill would create a gambling control commission and license casinos in Dallas, Tarrant and Bexar counties, three more along the Gulf coast, and casinos operated by the Tiguas, the Alabama Coushattas and the Kickapoos. Marty Schladen, El Paso Times, 4-9-13

 A new push for gaming expansion in Texas drew muted commentary from analysts Tuesday.  They have been down that road before.  A Texas state senator said this week that he has support for legislation to bring 21 large and small casinos to Texas and create a state gaming commission.  Casino expansion bills surface routinely in the state’s biannual legislative sessions, but the measures have universally failed. Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4-10-13

Committee adjourns without taking a vote.  Looks like amendments will be offered to add bingo protections, to allow Kickapoo (way off in Eagle Pass) to operate a casino off their lands so they could compete with Laredo and San Antonio casinos, and offer more concessions to the horse industry.  Also, Carona mixed it up with Tea Party types – who are, by their own admission, a very divergent group with no real leadership, yet they ALL registered against the bill, saying it would be bad for Texas economy. Karen Brooks Harper, Dallas Morning News, 4-10-13




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