It's just a snapshot, but if a new poll is to be believed, Texans are nearly as unified in their desire to vote upon gambling legalization as they are in loathing Lance Armstrong. A survey released from Let Texans Decide, an organization leading the movement to allow Texans to vote upon gambling legalization, shows that the state's registered voters prefer the right to choose by nearly a five-to-one margin, a striking margin in a potential march toward a vote.
According to the results of the poll -- conducted Jan. 27-30 among 1,001 registered Texans, and coming with a margin of error of 3.1 percent -- some 82 percent of Texans support allowing a vote on a constitutional amendment regarding gambling. The survey, conducted by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Center, also showed that party affiliation played little discernible role in support, with both parties polling above 80 percent. (An oversample of 511 GOP voters confirmed the finding, with support falling within the 4.4 percent margin of error of the original.)
Considering the sort of legislation Let Texans Decide has been pushing recently -- they've cited, consistently, that Texas hemorrhages $2.5 billion in gambling revenue lost annually to neighboring states -- it may seem little surprise that they've found Texans preferring such wholesale democracy to allowing legislators to choose for them.
"There were really no surprises," said Eric Bearse, a spokesman for Let Texans Decide. "The key point is that across all demographics, all incomes, and all political persuasions, Texans are united in a desire to decide the issue of expanded gaming for themselves."
However, association aside, a few interesting numbers on the state of gambling legislation came to light:
-- As aforementioned, there seems to be little party discrepancy when viewing potential gambling legalization within Texas. However, gender discrepancies remain the strongest indicator yet seen in preference. While both genders poll above 50 percent, women seem far more reluctant than their male counterparts to place a potential amendment on the next ballot, with their support lagging nearly 10 points behind men.
-- Houston, this bastion of amoralism, came in with the highest proportion of registered voters (85 percent) at least willing to see this amendment on the ballot. West Texas, meanwhile, saw less than three-quarters (74 percent) willing to fancy a vote. Seems some of New Orleans's heathenistic lifestyle's continued to seep westward.
-- Texans love Vegas -- or, at least, slightly more than they'll opt for entertainment in Oklahoma. A plurality of registered voters noted that they'd traveled to Nevada to frequent a casino, with Louisiana (36 percent), Oklahoma (20 percent), and New Mexico (11 percent) rounding out the travel costs.
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-- Alas, there was no question to pertaining to how Texans would actually vote should a potential amendment finally come forward. "We're just trying to keep it simple, and focus on a basic principle," said Bearse. "We'll leave the specific language to the legislators."
Bearse noted that the earliest these numbers could be put to use would be in the fall, when a potential amendment may finally arise. As one of the few states without Class III gambling -- that is, without anything you'd see on late night ESPN -- Texas provides the largest prize to the nation's pro-gambling forces, and may be inching closer to joining the rest of the nation's vice-laden lifestyles.
"Texas is a state that has long valued individual choice and freedom," Bearse said. "And, quite frankly, we've never embraced the nanny state, and we believe this should at least be put to a vote."