In north Texas, many residents have a weekly commute-style ritual, and Nona Dean is one of them. But it's not work-related.
She and her husband leave their Denton home, cross the Red River into Oklahoma and head to WinStar World Casino, just one mile into the state, ready to take their chances on slot machines.
"We just do it for fun," she said. "We don't do anything else [for entertainment]. This is our fun."
But if she had the chance to gamble at a casino in Texas, where tax dollars could go to funding state needs such as education, she'd do it in a heartbeat, she said.
"Our money would stay in Texas," she said.
She and many other Texans drive to neighboring states -- Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico -- and spend billions of dollars a year playing machines and tables and dabbling in off-track betting.
State lawmakers have a proposal on the table to consider allowing casinos in Texas and keep those gamblers, and that money, in the state.
Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, has filed a bill to let Texans vote on allowing a limited number of legal gambling sites in Texas -- slot machines at horse and greyhound racetracks, and Las Vegas-style casinos in urban areas, on Indian tribal land and in tourist destinations on islands in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Clearly we need the money," Ellis has said. "The people deserve the right to choose whether they want to move forward with an option to bring back the jobs and money to Texas we are giving away to other states.
"If the Legislature will give the people of Texas a chance to vote, clearly the people of Texas are ready for it."
But like similar proposals in past legislative sessions, the bill to make casino gambling legal in Texas may not have the odds in its favor.
Gambling opponents have long argued that casinos won't generate the long-term revenue lawmakers hope for. They fear that even if limited, the number of casinos allowed would quickly grow. And they worry that the bulk of the revenue generated at casinos would come from local residents who can least afford it -- not from out-of-town tourists.
"There are folks walking around the Capitol saying, 'Let folks decide,'" said Rob Kohler, a consultant with the Christian Life Commission, which is part of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. "That's the oldest trick around here. Folks do decide -- in the primary and general elections.
"If it was so popular and everybody wanted it in Texas, people would be running on that issue," he said. "But they aren't."
Let Texans Decide, which supports casinos in Texas, was formed last year to encourage lawmakers to put the issue before Texas voters. Organizers recruited former state Sen. John Montford, a Democrat who went on to be chancellor of the Texas Tech University System and work for companies including General Motors and Southwestern Bell, to help.
"Texas is hemorrhaging money in the billions to our neighboring states," said Montford, a spokesman for the group. "We are surrounded."
Ellis' bill, he said, is a starting point.
The goal, Montford said, is to let the bill evolve and develop as lawmakers work together to create a proposal the conservative 2013 Legislature can approve and put before voters. Especially as studies report that 90 percent of the customers at casinos on the Texas-Oklahoma border are Texans.
"We think the people of Texas are smart enough and ready to decide this issue," he said.
According to the group:
Adding casinos to racetracks in Texas could create 75,000 jobs, show $8.5 billion in statewide economic growth and benefit 40 industries including agriculture, construction and tourism.
Casinos at Texas racetracks could generate $1 billion in taxes each year.
Texans already spend more than $2.5 billion a year at casinos in states near Texas.
Dozens of chambers of commerce, including Arlington's, and other groups have thrown their support behind giving voters a chance to decide whether to bring casinos to this state.
The group has started a petition that has drawn more than 5,300 signatures to encourage lawmakers to let Texans vote on the issue.