Monday, November 20, 2006

The "official" line on gambling (?)

The Sons of the Beach Sandcastle Wizards have been spending a lot of time at the South Padre Island Visitors Center the past few days while we replace the resident sand castle with a sandy Christmas tree and a family of snowpeople. (Stop by and take a look - it is pretty sweet if I do say so myself.)

It is always interesting hanging out there because we get to see up close and personal the public face our town shows to first-time visitors. The people that work there are very nice and very helpful -- and also very careful to keep personal opinions out of their answers. ("Sorry, but I am not allowed to recommend one restaurant over another.")

And sometimes the kinds of questions we get to hear asked are as interesting as the answers. Like the guy who came in Saturday and asked, "So when is South Padre Island getting gambling?"

I had expected to hear the counter person say something like "gambling is still illegal in Texas, though there are people working hard to change that," but the young lady calmly and with great confidence in her own words said, "We will have it here in two years."

Huh!!?? What does she know that I don't? And is that the town's official line these days? Didn't we just reelect a governor who is adamantly opposed to casinos in Texas? And don't the residents have any say in the matter whatsoever?

What am I missing here?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is all ready here!!!!
Been to Jakes Laundry lately!

Yea, them folks are all playing for COUPONS.
illeagel is not a gray area

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds like a little more training needed at the staff level, don't you think? And can someone clear us up on this Kake's Laundry business??
other nancy m

10:25 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

This sounds like 8-liners, those video games rather similar to slot machines except the payout is not in chips or real money. Last I checked the Texas Moon also had them.

Yes, these are perfectly legal in Texas as long as there is no money given to the winners - you just spin quarters for privilege of losing them. And it is a big money-maker. Apparently some people HATE quarters and dump them with obvious glee.

Honey, I just won another forty dollar stuffed plastic duck again.

Some of these in-kind "coupons" can be quite expensive, too, and cross the line into potentially illegal activity.

I am quite sure the staff person who said gambling was two years in the future simply misspoke, a brain fart if you will. The person could have great powers of prediction, although to get a bill rammed through Legislature, a vote on the Texas Consitution, and a local referendum would indeed be high hurdles to cross. /Sam

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so that means they are legal in Texas, sam?
other nancy m

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoops, you answered my question,

3:14 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Nancy - gambling requires one to bet on a bid and then see if you win some moolah. No moolah, no gambling. It is like sex without the wet spots.

- The Sturgeon General

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey tax man, might wanna check them there w-2"s on those folks working at (Jakes Laundry)
All Machines pay cash and all workers paid in cash...Hum t-shirt shops are not the only ones laundrying the moola

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk to both employees and customers about what the winnings are and who gets what. I'm told it depends on whether or not they know you......Coral Reef, Kelly's, etc.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do the know the DA and his team of agents,
Breaking the law just a little bit is like being a little bit pregnant.
your still screwed!!!
Karma will bite those who choose to ignore it.

Karma be coming around the bend....

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will probably be like last year - these boarder line operations will be allowed to continue until they are filled with Winter Texans - then they will bust them, humilate the visitors so they just pay up, then no one will be able to find those responsible.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

Hmmm. I didn't mean to start a "rat-out-your-neighbor" session :) I know that the operation at Kelly's had shut itself down some time ago and had assumed that the others had as well.

At any rate, we all know what kind of gambling the gentleman was asking about. Do you think casinos on SPI are inevitable?

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if Texas passes it and the isla blanca lease stays in effect, I bet they will have it!
I don't think anyone really wants it on the island proper (city) but I am sure that if the park gets it, greedy folks here will want slots everywhere!!Yuck.
other nancy m

10:56 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Sure, gambling has it place ... Vegas, Reno, Biloxi ... but I do have a bad case of NIMBY or "not in my back yard."

It is true that today, most casinos are oriented towards "family" experiences and great entertainment, and over 90 percent of the people who go there just clean, fun people out to have a good time.

However, it is the extra baggage that comes with the casinos that concerns me, that "bad" five percent. I do not need to remind folks about the professionals, the addicted gamblers, the drug use, the crime, the hookers, the drunks, and all that noise.

On a more serious note (come ON, Sammy!), I am concerned that with all he added weight of the concrete, steel, and money, our little Island would simply sink into the Gulf ...

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget the tax increases that probably will come with the need for more law enforcement personnel, more road and infrastructure maintenance, etc. What about the drain on utilities and water? Has anyone planned for that?

11:07 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

This is a little off target but why should we worry about the utility infrastructure anywhere? The Town doesn't own any utilities other than some partially working storm sewers.

Electricity - AEP / distributor
Water - Laguna Madre Water District
Phone - SWBell, others

Town leaders could care a flop whether Schlitterbaun or a new casino complex sucks our sinks dry or not. I have asked the Town to intervene after having five water main breaks on Laguna Drive.

The Town response was something like "drink bottled water." The undertone was that stuff wasn't fit to drink, anyway.

True, the town has a few miles of roadway but Padre Boulevard is owned by TXDOT.


I have to fess up and recant on my previous idea that casinos could lead to higher crime. According to my brother Matt, in casino management for about 20 years, if anything the crime rate should go down. He said what I wrote was complete and utter crap.

Whoa, bro'! The way Matt explained it, a casino has about five to 15 security folks on duty at any given time that can do video, watch for theft, provide emergency services, CPR, monitor for fires, and basically run their own little cop shop. He said his worse problem was older folks still gambling at five in the morning, drunk as Cooter Brown, and he didn't have the heart to call the local cops. I asked him if he was running a drunk tank too and he had no comment. "Naw, we just fix 'em up and send 'em along."

I guess I stand corrected.


9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam, We will all worry when we get more frequent outages and brown outs from overuse that has not been planned for. We will all worry if water is rationed because the increase in demand has not been foreseen. These are the kinds of things that have happened to unsuspecting citizens in towns that suddenly got casino gambling and had no chance to plan for the results.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I was hoping somebody would say that the Town should take a more proactive approach as to its utilities. Thanks. I'm on your side. ~Sam

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell Matt that it's all very well and good that casinos are able to provide security on their own grounds, but unless they can provide security for the neighborhoods that the casinos surround, it doesn't mean diddly.

1:41 AM  

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