A pair of bills have been filed in the Texas legislature that would bring four casinos in major metropolitan areas to the state, as well as sports betting.
According to a report from the Dallas Morning News, the proposed legislation has bipartisan support with Republican Rep. John Kuempel submitting HJR 133 in the House and Democrat Sen. Carol Alvarado authoring SJR 49, the Senate’s version of the bill. It would also allow the three federally-recognized tribal nations in the state to run gambling operations as well.
The bills would overturn the gambling ban in the state constitution. Since the legislation deals with a constitutional amendment, it requires a two-thirds majority vote from the legislators.
In a statement, Alvarado used the same argument that other gambling expansion advocates have used. That the money should stay in the state instead of allowing gamblers to cross borders and generate economic activity elsewhere.
“Texas loses billions of dollars a year to our neighboring states that allow gaming and this measure would bring that revenue back to Texas, create tens of thousands of jobs and cut down on illegal gambling,” said Alvarado.
Both Oklahoma and Louisiana have casinos near the border with Texas. At the major poker tournament series at Choctaw Casino, a tribal casino in Oklahoma located about 15 miles from the Texas border, a large portion of the player pool hails from Texas, specifically the Dallas area.
The legislation follows lobbying work done by Las Vegas Sands Corp., now known as Sands Corp after the company sold its pair of Las Vegas Strip properties. Last November, Sheldon Adelson hired eight lobbyists to push for gambling legalization in the state. Adelson passed away last January, but the efforts continued under new leadership.
At a briefing about the legislation last month, a Sands representative said the company would be focusing most of its efforts on the Dallas market.
It won’t be smooth sailing towards legalization as there are still some government officials who do not want to see the state expand its gambling market. Last month, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that gambling “wouldn’t see the light of day” during the current legislative session.