Texas Could Legalize Gambling in 2025, Professor Predicts

Posted on: May 23, 2023, 08:42h. 

Last updated on: May 25, 2023, 05:48h.

Even though casino legislation recently died in the Texas House of Representatives, observers say it will likely be reconsidered two years from now and eventually win approval.

Texas state capitol building
The Texas state capitol building, pictured above. The Austin complex was the scene of much debate this session on gambling. (Image: Visit Austin)

Online sports betting proposals will also get resubmitted to the legislature and find sufficient votes to reach a statewide referendum, political analysts predict.

Expanded gaming is in Texas’ future, the only question is when,” University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus recently told Casino.org.

He explained that casino gaming is a big change and will take a few legislative sessions to pass.

There was significant support among legislators for recent casino legislation, with the final House vote falling just shy of the required two-thirds majority in the chamber. Neither the Senate considered sports betting nor casino legislation, with the chamber under Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R).

“The biggest objections are about negative externalities — increased addiction or crime issues –, but the legislation can be written to address these to placate legislator concerns,” Rottinghaus said.

Close Call

Rice University political scientist Mark P. Jones also agreed that the legislature will likely reconsider online sports betting and casino gambling legislation in the near future.

The latest votes in the House were the closest Texas has come to legalizing gambling in more than 30 years, according to Jones. While advocates are disappointed the bills didn’t pass, “they can take solace in the fact that their legislation made it much further in the legislative process than ever before,” Jones told Casino.org.

As of today that are well-positioned to make a concerted push in 2025 to finally obtain the long-awaited prize of casino gambling and online sports betting in the Lone Star State,” Jones told Casino.org.

According to Jones, future legislation will likely be similar to the bills considered during this session. There is insufficient time to enact a bill this year as the current session ends on May 29. The next legislative session begins in 2025 when legislators are expected to pick up the issue again.

Before that, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) could theoretically call for a special sports betting and casino bills session.

“If and when he calls a special session, that is extraordinarily unlikely, really impossible,” Jones said.

Texas on Right Track

Andy Abboud, senior vice president of government relations at Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), which lobbied heavily for the casino legislation, said he was encouraged by the progress made in the legislature.

Our efforts to bring destination resorts to Texas took an extraordinary step forward with the vote in the Texas House of Representatives,” Abboud was quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Although it narrowly fell short of the two-thirds threshold of support required for a constitutional amendment, there is no question that our efforts are on the right track.”

The proposal called for up to eight destination resorts in the state. Houston and Dallas region would have gotten two casinos each, while San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, and McAllen would each have one casino.