February 24, 2009
GALVESTON - This Texas island city is fighting another hurricane, but this time it is an economic storm. Since hurricane Ike, the town has declined in population by a third down to 45,000. Some city leaders believe the only hope for its economy by be legalized casinos to attract tourists.
"Galveston has to put everything on the table as an answer for an economic recovery," said Allen Flores, president of the merchants association in the historic downtown Strand district. "We're dependent on tourism now more than ever."
Gambling is presently banned in Texas, but several casino-related bills are before the Texas legislature. They are opposed by social conservative groups and Gov. Rick Perry. If any of the bills are enacted by the legislature, the voters of Texas would have final approval.
Supporters point to examples in other Gulf Coast states. Both Mississippi and Louisiana have fiscal budgets that benefit from gaming revenues.
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