The Texas Tribune has the best article on this, hands down. Anyways, long story short, the Texas House voted to sunset the lottery, then, after realizing what they had just down, performed an epic about-face with amazing alacrity.
I remember the first time I (legally) purchased a lottery ticket. It was slightly after midnight on my 18th birthday, as I was coming home from dinner with friends. The gas station attendant didn’t even card me, which actually sort of disappointed me. Anyways, shortly thereafter, I started a tradition of buying a scratch-off at my local grocery store every Friday after school. I think the most memorable clerk reaction was “Is this a joke? Like, am I on candid camera?” Ouch.
But essentially, my opinion on the lotto is similar to my opinion on soda taxes or any sort of social issue, which is I have a pretty stubborn libertarian streak. People need to have personal responsibility, if they lose their money gambling, it ain’t the government’s fault, don’t blame the government lottery.
Accordingly, I was shocked and appalled at the House vote this morning to extend the life of the state lottery failing on a vote of 65-81. The Tea Party members came out in full force, and their constituents rallied to their Facebooks, congratulating them on a good “well done,” especially stopping the “evils of gambling.” Remarked one woman on Rep. Steve Toth’s page, “WE DO NOT WANT GAMBLING IN TEXAS [sic] of any kind.” I’ve always found such sentiment to run quite counter to my idea of what these people allegedly stand for, that is, small government and personal responsibility.
There is another element to this drama too, though, and that is that the State Lotto raises over $1B in revenue each year, with most of it going to education.
Then, after a few hours, the House reversed itself and voted 91-53 to save the lottery. The drama calmed down after that, so the program looks as though it will live another day.