Could casino gambling become a reality in Houston and Galveston?

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Gambling in Galveston County has been a debated issue for decades that could become a reality if one state legislator can convince voters to make it happen.

The proposal promises to help out homeowners living on the Texas Gulf Coast who have to pay for expensive hurricane insurance.

Tilman Fertitta, owner of the Golden Nugget in Louisiana, is not involved in the legislator's effort, but told ABC13 he supports gambling in Texas, but also says if it's not done right, it shouldn't be done at all.

Some people we spoke with on the island agreed.

"The closer, the better," Houston resident Aldir Toledo said. "Yeah, that would be perfect."

South Texans may not have to drive too far from home to press their luck if Rep. Joe Deshotel, a Democrat out of Beaumont, can get enough support to allow for casinos in certain counties.

Deshotel is pushing House Bill 494 as one way to help pool more money to help fund the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, which is additional insurance for those living in hurricane-prone areas.

"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," Deshotel told ABC13.

If approved, the Texas Lottery Commission would have the power to issue six licenses for casinos in Galveston, Jefferson and Nueces counties, as well as approve dog or horse tracks in Harris and Bexar counties.

But not everyone thinks this 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," Oklahoma resident Chris Reed said.

"I see it more as an addiction, because there are a lot of people who are addicted to gambling," Galveston resident Agnes Donnelly said. "Also, addicted to the card games and slot machines. There's other ways to get the money for it."

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