Texas Lottery in Limbo After Surprise Vote in the House

For a couple of hours on Tuesday, the Texas Lottery was in limbo after a stunning vote by lawmakers in the Texas House.

The house voted 82-64 to defeat a bill that would have extended the Texas Lottery Commission to the year 2025; but, in a bizarre turn of events, enough representatives decided to take another vote, and this time it was a different outcome.

The Texas Lotto was on shaky ground, which would have meant no more scratch-off tickets, no more charity bingo and other popular games, along with billions of dollars lost for public schools.

"I think that was a stupid decision," resident Amanda Devers said.

"I think you should trust in the lord for everything brother," said Albert Medrano, who is against the Lotto. "The lottery is just gambling. I don't believe in gambling."

"I don't think it's a tax against the poor," said Kristin Sanderford, who is in favor of Lotto. "I think it's a choice if you want to buy the lottery ticket, wether I have two dollars or 20."

"It's kind of a shock," resident Terisa Howard said. "It's been around ever since I can remember."

Tuesday's drama unfolded when some lawmakers claimed that the lottery preyed on low-income residents, saying it was a tax on the poor; and in a surprise outcome, there were enough votes to kill House Bill 2197.

But after taking a break, members of the House came back and asked for a second vote, one that saved the Texas Lotto. The second vote was 91-53.

"Either the Texas Lotto Commission continues to exist or it doesn't, and if it doesn't, none of the programs they help fund would be able to sustain themselves," Representative Abel Herrero said via telephone.

"I think it's a lesson for some members to read the bills, to know what they are voting on," Representative J.M. Lozano said via telephone. "Everyone in the Corpus delegation voted for it the first and second time."

All three local representatives, Herrero, Lozano and Todd Hunter, voted both times in favor of saving the Lottery.

In 2011, Texans spent $3.8 billion on lottery tickets, of which $963 million went into the foundation school account, and another $8.1 million was given to the Texas Veterans Commission.

However, the process isn't over. The House will vote again Wednesday on a third reading of the bill. From there, it goes through the Senate, and then to the governor's desk.


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