Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson Pragmatic About Casino Idea

Posted on: December 13, 2023, 03:47h. 

Last updated on: December 15, 2023, 09:26h.

Mayor Eric Johnson (R-Dallas) isn’t opposed to the idea of a casino hotel near the city. But he’s not rushing to support such a plan, either. Instead, he says more discussion is needed on the matter.

dallas casino
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson (R). He said much discussion is needed regarding a casino in the city. (Image: Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP Photo)

In remarks made Tuesday at a luncheon held by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Johnson told attendees that, as of yet, no talks have been held regarding the possibility of Texas’ second-largest city eventually being home to an integrated resort.

That’s not something that just because the legislature said can happen, just happens,” Johnson said. “I haven’t been a part of those conversations. I don’t feel like they’re really happening. And I think at some point, if he’s [Mark Cuban] serious about really having casino gambling and he’s serious about having it in Dallas, I think that’s a conversation a lot of people are willing to have. But we haven’t had it, just to be honest.”

The mayor’s comments on the matter are his first since Dr. Miriam Adelson and the Miriam Adelson Trust announced the purchase of a majority interest in the Dallas Mavericks. Adelson is the largest individual shareholder in Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS), the company her late husband Sheldon Adelson founded and brought to prominence.

Johnson Says There’s Much to Talk About

The mayor’s comments at the Chamber luncheon arrived just days after reports surfaced that a limited liability corporation (LLC) with ties to Sands acquired land in Irving, Texas. That was before the gaming company announced a $2 billion share sale by Adelson, the proceeds of which were used to fund the acquisition of the Mavericks.

In July, an LLC known as Village Walk RE 2 LLC purchased 108 acres of land across from the now-demolished Texas Stadium. That entity shares the same Las Vegas mailing address as Sands, stoking speculation that Adelson’s purchase of majority control of the Mavericks is about much more than simply owning an NBA team.

Cuban, the Mavericks’ soon-to-be minority owner, has made no secret of his desire to bring a casino hotel to the Dallas area and previously said his desired partner on such a project is Las Vegas Sands. He plans to get a large entertainment district anchored by a casino hotel and a new arena for the Mavs to life.

Citing Universal Studios’ plan to develop a $550 million theme park in Frisco, Texas, Johnson noted the community impact of a casino hotel needs to be assessed.

“This sounds good on one level. But there’s another aspect to this: you’re bringing many people in here for a particular purpose that is not necessarily living in Frisco,” noted the Dallas mayor.

More Moving Parts

It’s well-known that gaming companies want to enter Texas. But making that ambition a reality is another matter. Johnson noted that Cuban and local leaders would need to not only nail down a specific location for a casino hotel but also answer land use questions must also be answered.

The mayor added that the Dallas casino conversation differs from what needs to take place in Austin, the Texas capitol. He may have been referencing a political environment not yet conducive to gaming expansion in the state.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R) recently said the votes aren’t in the Texas State Senate to advance casino gaming legislation to Gov. Gregg Abbott’s (R) desk. In this year’s legislative session, casino gaming and sports wagering bills made more headway than ever in Texas but ultimately failed.