Lone State residents worry that a spate of approvals of virtual gambling permits in Mexican cities right across the border will put pressure on Texas to legalize some forms of gambling.

In an unexpected move, the Mexican government issued several dozen licenses to host virtual gambling machines in bars, restaurants, and other sites, mainly in border cities.

The Lone Star State is closely surrounding by places that allow some forms of casino or virtual gambling. Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and now Mexico permit casinos, virtual gambling, or both. In Arkansas, a bill to add virtual gambling machines to racetracks passed the legislature but faces local legal challenge. More than 35 gambling sites are now within only 50 miles of the Texas border, leaving Texas as a rather lonely holdout in the gambling game.

The fact that Texas does not allow casino or virtual gambling, however, does not mean that its residents do not partake in these activities. They do, and quite heavily. Texans from Houston and the Dallas- Fort Worth area, for example, ranked among the nation’s highest cities in a study of resident casino and virtual gambling participation. 3.2 million Texans gambled in 2003, averaging some four trips per year.