Just across the Red River, WinStar World Casino paid out $291.8 million since this time last year.
It's Oklahoma's largest casino, covering more than 500,000 square feet with 76 tables, more than 6,700 electronic games slots and 24-hours of bells and whistles, according to its website.
I remember in 2004 when it went up in Thackerville, a town of about 400 people. I lived just across the Red River about 30 miles west. The River is dotted with game halls and card rooms operated by the Kiowa Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Comanche Nation and others, but, "Let's go to the casino" always meant WinStar.
I know the fun it brings -- Bob Dylan and world-class concerts, fine dining, a chance to win big. But it also brings addiction, isolation and poverty. I was in high school and my best friends' parents would make week-long stays in Thackerville without any notice or arrangements for care.
Since the casino resort opened, Thackerville has seen nominal growth. Its population may be up to 450 these days. The town's new restaurants all opened inside the resort. Barbed-wire fences and pasture still line most of the roadways.
Let Texans Decide reports that 85 percent of the patrons in Oklahoma casinos are from Texas. A pro-industry report says expanded gambling in Texas could contribute $8.5 billion in total economic activity to the state, and generate significant revenue for infrastructure without raising taxes.
The group wants a referendum to let Texans decide whether to expand gambling within the state's borders. They say Texans don't like being told how to spend their money and that we're smart enough to decide for ourselves whether we want to fold the hand or call the bet.
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