Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Texas-OU and gambling across state lines

Pro-casino interests sponsored this radio ad about Texans gambling across state lines. It was posted online Oct. 11, 2012.

Just before this year’s University of Texas-Oklahoma University football game, a group that hopes for legalized casino gaming across Texas hatched a radio ad about how much Texans spend gambling across state lines.

Mike Lavigne, spokesman for Let Texans Decide, said its ad is running on Dallas radio stations and will be heard a few times during the radio broadcast of Saturday’s football game.

In the 60-second spot,  a drawling Oklahoma tour guide welcomes a busload of Texas gamblers to the Sooner State which, she says, is home to 54,000 slot machines. "Now we just love seeing you Texans in our state," she says. "Spend as much time and money as you want."

Text in the ad on YouTube says Texans gamble more than $1 billion a year in Oklahoma.

Next, a narrator says: "Fellow Texans, this has to stop. Yet we Texans spend $2.5 billion a year gambling in neighboring states like Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, funding their schools, roads and hospitals with our money."

She encourages listeners to go to the group’s website.

The proclaimed expenditures by Texans sounded familiar to us because in April 2011, we checked a claim by a pro-casino group that Texans "spend $2.5 billion gambling in our neighboring states every year."
   
A July 7, 2010, report prepared for the sponsoring group, Texans for Economic Development, said that in 2009, Texans spent $2.7 billion on gaming and related activities in nearby states.
   
The report said Texans gambled most of that -- $2.57 billion -- in its immediate neighbors-with-casinos: Oklahoma, where the report said Texans threw down nearly $1.2 billion; Louisiana, about $1.1 billion; and New Mexico, $27 million. The state-by-state figures were based on various sources "including state gaming commissions, primary field research, convention and visitors bureaus ... and other academic studies," the report said.
   
After interviewing a key researcher and others, we concluded that the fruit-salad methodology used to reach the estimates was imperfect, but absent precise data, the declared tally looked reasonable. We said it’s a stretch, though, to claim Texans gamble the same total amount every year. We rated the claim as Mostly True.

This week, Lavigne told us by phone that the new ad was based on the same research, which he predicted would be updated before the 2013 Legislature convenes in January.