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Politicians follow voters opinions on casinos or stick to convictions


Sometimes it can be hard to be a politician. 

And for Texas politicians following what people want with casinos is just part of the job.  According to a survey by Austin TV station KXAN, more than 64% of Texans want casinos to be legalized.  If that statistic remains true for every region, then a majority of politicians are not following what their constituents want. 

Three legislators gathered Friday at Baylor for a Texas Tribune forum.  Representatives Charles "Doc" Anderson and Kyle Kacal and state senator Brian Birdwell chatted for around an hour about controversial issues including the state of education and health care. 

Afterwards each politician was asked why there is a discrepancy between what people seem to want and the law.

"We are the people's representatives, they elect us, we have these kinds of formats," Anderson said.  "We see what people want to do, we go down there and make these decisions."

"My job is to represent my district and this would make an incredible economic impact in my district," Kacal said. 

"Texas does not have to offer you the gambling addiction, other social services, and other challenges that come with bringing casino and gambling into Texas," Birdwell said. 

Birdwell says he will not support casinos even if a majority of people are in favor.

"People of the district can remove me if they feel gambling is so important and they want that vote then so be it," Birdwell. 

But according to Baylor political science professor Patrick Flavin, there is a point where you have to follow the opinions of your constituents if you want to get re-elected. 

"We tend to like politicians that stick to their guns that have a conscience," Flavin said.  "But we don't like them when they don't follow public opinion. So it's a tough, tough job."

Flavin says it could be that gambling isn't an important issue to many people.  He says some people may be in support of it, but won't mind if casinos stay illegal. 

While Birdwell says he will stick to his guns when it comes to casinos, he says he does listen to what people think. 

"They matter greatly to me," Birdwell said.  "But I get a lot of opinions from constituents that tell me they disagree with something. I get opinions from constituents they do agree with something."

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