Legislation

Texas Proposals on Sports Betting, Casinos Not Moving Forward, Top Politician Claims

A Texas bill to pave the way for commercial gaming properties and a related proposal to allow sports wagers will not be enacted by the legislature any time soon,  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) said on Tuesday.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick shown above. He predicts gambling expansion will not be approved by the legislature this session. (Image: Dallas Morning News)

The often-discussed gaming legislation would fail to get sufficient votes this session to reach a required referendum, Patrick says, according to the Quorum Report, a state politics newsletter.

Patrick also told KFYO, a Lubbock radio station, that sports betting is “not even an issue that’s going to see the light of day” during the current session.

“I’ve never been in favor of it,” Patrick told radio host Chad Hasty about expanded gaming in the state.

Patrick adds that the Senators are largely against more betting. The Senate currently has an 18-13 majority favoring Republicans.

Patrick’s Views Were Expected

When asked about the statements, Mark P. Jones, a political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, told Casino.org that they are not a surprise.

“Patrick has long opposed casino gambling, and with the passing of [Sands CEO Sheldon] Adelson, and a better-than-expected budget projection last month, there was never any reason to believe that Patrick would change his mind,” Jones said on Tuesday.

Patrick has clout over what happens in the Senate, Jones said. “As the undisputed leader of the Texas Senate who controls its agenda with an iron hand, Patrick is better positioned than anyone in Texas to ensure that gambling legislation does not see the light of day in 2021,” Jones added.

As recently as last month, Jones predicted that casino gambling legislation had “no realistic hope of passing” in Texas.

“All Patrick is doing here is letting the lobbyists and pro-gambling legislators know that they should not bother wasting their time on attempting to obtain the passage of casino gambling legislation this year,” Jones said.

The latest number of lobbyists works out to between $2.3 million to $4.5 million spent on lobbyists by Sands, based on information from the Texas Ethics Commission, according to The Texas Tribune, an online news site.

“And if the Sands wants to burn its money, the members of the Austin Lobby are quite happy to provide the matches and gasoline,” Jones added.

Patrick Unlikely to Change His Stand

It also is hard to identify a path whereby Patrick could be swayed to support gambling expansion.

I can’t imagine any scenario under which Patrick would change his mind this year,” Jones said. “The budget situation is no longer as dire as was feared last July. And Adelson is no longer around to reach out for a personal ask.”

Still, the Dallas Morning News reported on Monday that the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, MLB’s Texas Rangers, and NBA’s Dallas Mavericks are backing proposals that would legalize sports betting. The teams joined a new organization called the Sports Betting Alliance.

The alliance does not have an official stance on legalizing casinos, news reports said. But Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reportedly supports sports betting and commercial casinos in Texas.

In recent months, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, donated more than $5 million to Texas Republican politicians. The donations were seen by some political observers as a way that Sands could later ask for support for expanded gaming.

Ed Silverstein

Gaming Law, Tribal Gaming, Crime, Gaming Research----An award-winning journalist with credits ranging from the Associated Press to American Lawyer Media, Ed joined the Casino.org news team in 2019 with decades of legal reporting expertise under his belt. His past reporting and editing assignments include Cowles Business Media, Columbia University Press, the Connecticut Post, and Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc. Besides the law and its application to the gaming industry, Ed’s areas of expertise span business, courts, crime, politics, education, and state and local government. With an undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut (where he now lives), and master’s degrees from Harvard and Yale, Ed’s professional awards include recognition from the New England Press Association and New England AP News Executives. Email: ed.silverstein@casino.org

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Ed Silverstein