Before each legislative session, people in Galveston talk about the prospects of casino gambling in Texas.
That’s been a pattern since at least the ’90s.
Since then, the legislature has gotten more socially conservative, meaning it’s less likely to approve gambling statewide.
And, now, 20 years into this biennial discussion, there are signs that the opportunity wasn’t what it once was.
The New York Times reported on the casino business in Atlantic City, N.J.
That town of about 40,000 has 12 casinos.
Four have announced plans to sell out or shut down.
New Jersey voters approved casino gambling in 1976.
But gaming revenue is down sharply at the casinos.
There are just too many other places to gamble.
The take-home lesson was that casino revenues would make a significant source of revenue at the tourist destination.
But if casino revenues are the sole source, or even the major source, that might not be enough.
It appears that a hotel that gets a third of its revenue from gambling is probably healthy, but a hotel that gets three-quarters of its revenue from gambling is probably not.
That’s not an argument against gambling.
It’s an argument that the business model for the industry has changed since Galveston had its last real debate.