Oklahoma Tribes Concerned About Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks Sale

Posted on: November 30, 2023, 08:57h. 

Last updated on: November 30, 2023, 10:40h.

Oklahoma tribal leaders who have a vested interest in Indian casinos are concerned about Texas billionaire Mark Cuban selling a majority interest in his NBA Dallas Mavericks to the largest individual shareholder of Las Vegas Sands.

Oklahoma tribal leaders Mark Cuban
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is selling a majority interest in the NBA franchise to Dr. Miriam Adelson, the widow of the founder of Las Vegas Sands. The sale is raising concerns among Oklahoma tribal leaders about the possible expansion of gaming into Texas. (Image: Getty)

The worries were voiced on The New Normal with host Victor Rocha, a weekly webcast that discusses pressing topics in the tribal gaming industry. Indian Gaming Association Executive Director Jason Giles and Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Chair Matthew Morgan talked about the impact of Cuban divesting his majority control of the NBA franchise.

Cuban is supportive of Texas ending its prohibition on commercial casino gambling. He’s pitched the idea of bringing a Las Vegas-style casino resort to Dallas, and has hinted that he’d like to do so in partnership with Sands.

Sands’ lobbying efforts in Texas in recent legislative years have been unfruitful. But with Dr. Miriam Adelson, the widow of Sands founder Sheldon Adelson, becoming the chief owner of the Mavericks, there are questions as to whether her influence might be able to get more state lawmakers on board for the gaming push.

Adelson is one of the world’s richest women. Her Forbes real-time net worth of $31.3 billion ranks her as the 45th-richest person in the world, and the fifth-richest woman.

Sports Betting Controversy

Oklahoma tribal casinos are critical economic drivers for the state’s many gaming tribes. The casinos heavily rely on players from Texas, with the Dallas-Fort Worth market being a major feeder for the tribal resorts in the Sooner State.

The Choctaw Nation opened their $600 million integrated resort casino in Durant, just 10 miles north of the Oklahoma-Texas border, in 2021. The tribe, through their company Choctaw Casinos & Resorts, additionally operates tribal casinos in Grant and Pocola. Both are border towns, with Grant just north of the Texas line and Pocola just west of the Arkansas border.

Along with casinos possibly opening in Texas in the coming years, the tribes in Oklahoma are worried that sports betting could be legalized in the Lone Star State. The tribes want to begin taking sports bets as soon as possible to build their market share.

In hopes of sports gambling, the Choctaws in August tapped three Texas sports legends — NFL greats Troy Aikman and Darren Woodson, who both played for the Dallas Cowboys, and MLB Hall of Fame member Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, who spent most of his career with the Texas Rangers.

Oklahoma tribes have been campaigning for sports betting privileges, but have yet to reach a deal with Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), who is a member of the Cherokee Nation. Stitt surprised the tribes earlier this month when he unveiled a sports betting plan that would allow the tribes to take sports bets in-person, but not online.

Stitt’s sports betting recommendation would tax tribal sports betting revenue at 15%. The governor also recommended that the state allow one commercial online sportsbook operator, which would need to pay a one-time $500K licensing fee and a $100K annual renewal, plus direct 20% of the gross revenue to the state.

The tribes were quick to push back on the pitch, saying the proposal would effectively end their monopoly on casino gaming.

Sands and Sports Betting

Unlike many other major casino operators, Sands has been much less enthusiastic about sports betting. Sheldon Adelson was never a big fan of the low-margin gaming business vertical, and that thinking has held in the following Sands regimes.

Adelson was also strongly opposed to online casino gaming and internet sports betting. His widow has remained quiet about whether she supports further expansion of gaming, including if she thinks Texas should enter the commercial gaming industry.