Could Texas' budget crisis lead to legalized gambling?

Lobbyists, opponents and casino owners believe Texas' massive budget crisis could give proposals to legalize gambling their best chance in years for approval.

They say the $15 billion budget gap that has nearly every institution in the state bracing for massive cuts could make the revenues from gambling too tempting for this Legislature to ignore.

Legislative consultant Chuck McDonald has represented gambling supporters and opponents. Now, he would wager some long-time opponents may support gaming to lessen cuts.

As a result, some groups opposed to gambling are preparing numbers to argue for better and different ways the state could make money.

Casino owner Tilman Fertitta says gambling revenue would not fill the budget gap, but would lessen the blow of the upcoming cuts, including those expected for public education.

In previous interviews with local State Rep. John Smithee he said the biggest hurdle that the different organizations that represent gambling in Texas face is that they can't seem to come together to decide on one package for the state.

"You have this mixture of competition between the big out of state casino operators who want to do a resort type casino, you've got the horse track operators who want to put slot machine casinos at their tracks and a number of other groups that want to be able to do their own particular thing."

In an interview before the legislature convened Smithee had said that he's not sure legalized casinos in Texas will ever happen.

Do you think legalized gambling could help solve the budget crisis? Weigh in with our web poll below, and leave your thoughts on the issue, would you like to see legalized gambling in Texas?

The Associated Press contributed to this report