Texas’ Lt. Gov Patrick Says Legal Casinos Still Unlikely Despite Recent Developments
Las Vegas Sands’ owner Miriam Adelson’s upcoming purchase of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks has prompted speculation that Sands and current Mavericks owner Mark Cuban could join to push for legal Texas casinos.
However, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick this week reaffirmed state lawmakers’ opposition to casino gambling. He asserted that the necessary votes to advance casino legislation to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk are simply not there.
“My experience and my knowledge is that we aren’t even close to having 15 votes or 16 votes for casinos,” Patrick said, speaking to CBS News Dallas.
“When the session was over, there was not a cry from voters calling their Senators or House members, ‘Gosh, we didn’t pass. I needed this bill.’”
Political Resistance Still Strong
The purchase of a majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks by Dr. Miriam Adelson initially kindled some optimism for the future of commercial casinos in Texas.
Cuban has a good relationship with Las Vegas Sands, and has often touted them as a partner in his casino resort idea. This gave some hope that the two power players might convince Texas to eventually open its doors to integrated resorts.
Now, though, Lt. Governor Patrick, a long-standing opponent of the idea, has publicly rained on the parade.
Patrick’s observations are critical, as he presides over the state Senate, a chamber pivotal in any legislative change.
Casino Legislation’s Complexities
Introducing casinos in Texas is no simple matter any way you look at it. It isn’t merely a matter of passing a regular bill. Legalizing gambling will require amendments to the state constitution, for which any vote needs two-thirds majorities in the state House and Senate.
The lack of political support is also influenced by Texas’ economic prosperity. The Lone Star State is the second-biggest economy in the U.S., behind only California, and in 2022, it had more Fortune 500 companies than any other state.
All that considered, Texas lawmakers may well think they are doing just fine, thank you very much, and the economic argument behind legal casinos loses a lot of weight.
Despite public polls indicating support for casinos and sports wagering, these hurdles make the prospect of gaming expansion in Texas a long shot, at least anytime soon.
Even if another special session of the legislature is convened, Patrick says pressing social issues like property tax relief and cost-of-living increases are likely to take precedence over gaming expansion.
The debate over casino legislation in Texas is expected to continue into 2024, with no real end in sight.
Patrick did not completely rule out the prospects of casinos in the long term.
“Big things don’t happen overnight,” Patrick said. “You got to get in the trenches and grind it out.”
In the meantime, casinos in neighboring states have capitalized on the lack of gambling in Texas.
For instance, Oklahoma casinos like the Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma, just 90 minutes away from Dallas, have become a popular gambling destination for Texans.
The Choctaw even hired several Texas sporting legends to directly advertise across state borders.
Earlier this year, Texan furniture sales entrepreneur Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale placed several million of dollars in bets on his hometown Houston Astros of the MLB.
When the Astros crashed out of the World Series, losing Mack more than $7 million to the ‘books, Texas also lost out on hundreds of thousands in potential taxes.