Overview of the push for legal gambling in Texas
Legislation has been introduced by lawmakers to legalize gambling and allow the construction of casino resorts in major cities of Texas. If the bill is passed by two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate, Texas voters will get a chance to vote on the issue in the November elections. The campaign has been initiated by wealthy casino operators and sports team owners, and it has received rare bipartisan support in Texas politics.
Over the past year, supporters of gambling legislation in Texas have invested millions of dollars in the cause. Although their attempts to pass legislation during the 2021 legislative session failed, things might be turning in their favor now. Recently, they have successfully gained the support of Governor Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan, who have expressed willingness to consider the possibility of full-fledged casinos.
The potential economic benefits of legalizing gambling in Texas
Over the past year, the political action committee of Las Vegas Sands Corp. received over $2 million in funds from its largest shareholder, Miriam Adelson. The company has also hired a record-breaking number of 89 lobbyists in Texas this year. The Sports Betting Alliance is a group of sports teams, leagues, and betting platforms. They are now involved in Texas politics and have hired 20 people to speak on their behalf to the state.
Matt Hirsch works for an organization called the Texas Destination Resort Alliance. It includes Las Vegas Sands. He wants people in Texas to be able to gamble in their own state. This is because right now, Texans are already gambling in other states.
Who is leading the charge to bring casinos to Texas – Miriam Adelson
Texas does not allow gambling games like blackjack. But you can go to Oklahoma or Louisiana if you live near Dallas or Houston. There are 3 casinos in Texas, but they only have machines like bingo and card games. Some boats were used to take people gambling in the past, but this is no longer allowed.
For over a decade, Texas lawmakers have attempted to pass legislation legalizing casino live game gambling. Trying to have more gambling in Texas has not worked. People are worried that it might cause bad things like criminals getting money and people with gambling problems getting hurt. The Republican Party in Texas listens a lot to the Christian churches, so they do not want more gambling.
What kind of opposition exists to legalizing gambling in Texas
In 2022, Miriam Adelson gave $1 million to Governor Abbott. She also gave $2 million through the Las Vegas Sands PAC. Miriam is very rich and has a lot of money – $36.4 billion! She was there when Governor Abbott took his oath for his third term as governor. Miriam and her late husband, Sheldon, donated lots of money to Donald Trump’s campaign for president. So far she has not said anything about it yet.
Last year, Tilman Fertitta gave away more than one million dollars to campaigns in Texas. He owns the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casinos, a restaurant chain called Landry’s Seafood, and the Houston Rockets. Of this amount, $500,000 went to Abbott and $200,000 went to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Jerry Jones is the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and he supports sports betting. He gave $500,000 to Abbott’s campaign and $200,000 to Patrick’s campaign. Rick Perry was hired by the Sports Betting Alliance to speak for them on politics.
How would casino resorts be regulated if they are approved by voters
In October, Mr. Abbott changed his mind about 1xBet casinos in his state. He wanted to make places that had fun activities like casinos instead of putting slot machines in gas stations. At first Mr. Patrick did not like the idea but now he is quiet on the topic and will not answer questions about it.
In 22 states, gambling in casinos is allowed. This includes New York where three new casinos opened in January. Legal sports betting is gaining popularity and is available in over two dozen states. In January 2022, New York allowed people to bet on sports. This made the state a lot of money – almost $700 million in taxes from online bets. GOP states such as Georgia, Missouri, and Oklahoma are also considering legalizing sports betting.
What types of games and activities could be offered at a Las Vegas-style resort in Texas
A professor in Texas said that Texans spend $5 billion at 1xBet casinos in other states each year. Republicans think that a new law should be made to control gambling and keep the money inside of Texas. Charlie Geren, a Republican politician, thinks it is important for Texans to figure out what they want and to vote. It is their right to vote.
Senator Carol Alvarado from the Democratic party wants to pass a law about gambling. This law could help the economy. Building and running casinos could create over 150,000 jobs and would need 70,000 people to work at them.
“It’s about creating jobs,” she said.
In January, the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston conducted a survey revealing that 75% of Texans would approve the resolution proposed by Alvarado. The resolution aims to permit the establishment of casinos in Texas’ significant cities, comprising Dallas and Houston, and sports betting. Geren also filed a related resolution backed by Las Vegas Sands that would authorize up to seven licenses for full-scale resorts divided among five metropolitan regions.
A look ahead – what’s next for legalized gambling in the Lone Star State
House Bill 2843 and House Bill 1942 aim to make casino gambling and online sports betting legal in Texas. If the bills are approved by voters, sports wagering would be allowed under the 1xBet casino bill as well. Three Republicans, Reps. Shelby Slawson of Stephenville, Will Metcalf of Conroe, and John Smithee of Amarillo, voted against advancing these proposals.
Last month, both bills were heard that discussed the expansion of gaming in Texas. During the hearing, familiar arguments were made by supporters, claiming that it would bring economic benefits. Meanwhile, opponents raised the concern that it might lead to increased gambling addiction and societal harm.
According to the updated casino legislation, 80% of the tax revenue generated by the casinos may be used for the proposed Texas University Fund. This fund aims to provide support to public universities across the state to improve their research capabilities and national rankings, especially those universities that do not have access to the Permanent University Fund, which is worth billions and currently benefits only the University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems. The TUF, if approved, would offer extra funding to the University of Houston, Texas Tech University, Texas State University, and the University of North Texas.