Perry has been getting gambling money for a long time.
Through Sept. 28, people or groups with an interest in gambling enterprises have given more than $2 million to candidates in the governor's race.
Perry has received $1.2 million from gambling interests; independent Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, $1 million; and Democrat Chris Bell, $3,000. Ironically, the most ardent supporter of expanded gambling, independent Kinky Friedman, has no donations tied to gambling interests.
In 2004, Perry briefly supported legalizing video lottery terminals — electronic slot machines — at existing Texas horse- and dog-racing tracks to help pay for public schools. That also would have allowed the Tigua and Alabama-Coushatta Indian tribes in Texas to operate casinos limited to those gambling devices.
Perry dropped that support under pressure from social and religious conservatives. He has been staunchly opposed to any expansion of gambling since.
"He doesn't want to see casino-style gambling come to the state," said spokesman Robert Black.
$2 billion drain?
Bell, Friedman and Strayhorn however, say Texans are gambling, but are leaving the state to do so.
"We are sucking conservatively 2 billion dollars a year out of our Texas classrooms. They are going to Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico and now Oklahoma," Strayhorn said.
Strayhorn supports allowing video lottery terminals at existing racing facilities.
Friedman said he thinks Perry is just catering to a small group of voters in Texas.
"Rick Perry's base is the far religious right. They say they are against gambling. I think the latest poll says 80 percent of Texans favor gambling, but they gamble out of state," Friedman said. Friedman supports establishing a full casino industry in Texas.