Another push to bring gambling to Galveston

GALVESTON, TX State Representative Craig Eiland is asking the state attorney general to spell out what the Texas law says about card games.

Galveston is still trying to rebound from Hurricane Ike. Business owners are looking for ways to generate revenue.

The latest attempt is the idea of card rooms in at least one hotel. And gambling can be a polarizing topic on the island.

"Everyone is very passionate about it; they're either really for it or they are really against it," said Victor Pearson, president of Galveston Chambers of Commerce.

Two weeks ago, Eiland asked the state attorney general if it was legal to open a card room in a Galveston hotel and resort. He is still waiting to hear back.

Currently in Texas, card games in public establishments are prohibited except in a few instances.

"I have no strong feelings, personally about someone playing cards for money," business owner Shrub Kempner said.

Kempner is a business owner in Galveston who opposes casinos on the island. However, if it's a ploy to open up the door for larger gambling venues he feels the residents must have a say by way of voting.

"I don't think that a card room in one hotel or even in several hotels would inevitably lead to casino gambling on the island, as long as we have a choice," Kempner said.

State lawmakers have tried to bring gambling to Texas several times, but each time has failed.

The Galveston Chamber of Commerce says a majority of their members support casinos, but adds it's unlikely the issue will be taken up in the upcoming 82nd Legislature.

But if it does they will be ready to support gambling in Galveston.

"We still want to continue -- as far as understanding the gambling issues and being prepared to react if something was proposed," Pearson said.

Business owners in Galveston are in favor of bringing casino gambling to the island. A survey by the Chamber of Commerce found that 79 percent of owners say casinos would help their businesses.

In order to bring casinos to Galveston, the issue would first have to pass the state legislature and would then need to be approved by voters.

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