Advocates renew push for casino gambling legalization but face steep uphill climb

The Dallas-based Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which is owned by the billionaire Adelson family, is once again campaigning for gambling to be legalized in Texas and the introduction of luxury casinos in cities like Dallas and San Antonio. Their recent purchase of a majority stake from Mark Cuban, who supports casino legalization regarding the Dallas Mavericks, underlines their seriousness.

Sands Group reactivated their lobby called The Texas Destination Resort Alliance and is investing so much in these moves. Political observers say that there is increasing momentum for casino gaming in Texas.

According to Jon Taylor, political science chair at UTSA, “Momentum is building, and I think it’s building too favorably towards casino gambling.” “The Sands company wouldn’t have bought 61% of the Dallas Mavericks if they didn’t think casino gaming was eventually coming to Texas.”

Native American casinos, a few state-run lotteries, and a few horse racing facilities exist legally. For example, we can increase our regional revenue by licensing resort casinos; it will also boost tourism, especially when you consider states like Oklahoma and Louisiana already offering extended gambling options.

However, there are significant roadblocks to legalizing casinos in Texas. One big hurdle is strong opposition from evangelical and socially conservative groups who are against any expansion of gambling activities.

“One of the major roadblocks for casinos in Texas is sort of your old school evangelical vote,” said Scott Braddock, the editor of The Quorum Report. “And that’s why Dan Patrick –the big one–will fight it off because he’s always been opposed to expanding anything.”

Patrick has always spoken out against further gaming or resorts style resort among notable conservatives within Texas. In 2023, he essentially killed all gaming bills, including sports betting, passed by House representatives.

While Speaker Dade Phelan has shown openness to expanded gaming, Governor Greg Abbott hasn’t completely shut it out; however, increasingly, at the recent Republican primaries, many moderate Republicans were defeated or are in runoffs with more conservative candidates, which only added another layer of complexity to this case.

Another significant obstacle lies within the legislative process itself. Since it requires a constitutional amendment to legalize casinos, a two-thirds majority vote would be needed by both Houses before it is put on the public ballot, as has been historically difficult for such legislation in a Republican-controlled legislature.

Despite polls showing public support for expanded gaming, however, casino legalization remains an uphill task for these reasons: religious organizations and social conservative groups are projected to lobby heavily against any such measures as they argue that this could undermine the state’s values.

Although Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s renewed push and growing momentum behind this movement are significant, major political, moral and legislative hurdles exist between Texas and legalized resort casinos.

Scott Mitchell has done his bachelor's degree in journalism. He has also worked for many poker industries as a news editor and has excellent knowledge about casino games. He likes to play casino games and share his experience on social media.

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