Texas Survey Shows Overwhelming Support for Casinos, Expanded Gambling in the State

Posted on: January 26, 2023, 09:14h. 

Last updated on: January 27, 2023, 01:42h.

Some 75% of Texas residents surveyed this month back a proposed bill that would set up limited gaming properties in the state.

The Texas state capitol building in Austin
The Texas state capitol building in Austin, pictured above. Voter support for expanded gambling is evident in a recent survey. The first step in the enactment process requires support from state legislators. (Image: Wikipedia)

The bill, Senate Joint Resolution 17, was introduced by state Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston.

Under the legislation, the Dallas-Fort Worth region, as well as Houston, San Antonio, and Austin would each become a site for a destination casino. Sports betting and other expanded gambling would follow, according to the bill. The bill would also allow limited casino gambling at each of the racinos now located in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Antonio.

The legislation also allows for limited casino gambling at each greyhound racetrack now in Corpus Christi and in Harlingen (Rio Grande Valley). Other expanded gambling options would be seen at tribal casinos at the Alabama-Coushatta in East Texas, the Kickapoo in Eagle Pass, and the Tigua in El Paso.

The survey reveals 75% of respondents support the passage of the legislation, including 41% who strongly support its passage. On the other hand, 25% of Texans questioned oppose it, including 13% who strongly oppose its passage.

The survey on the bill was released on Thursday by the University of Houston.

Bipartisan Support

The survey says 80% of Texas Democrats and 72% of Texas Republicans surveyed support the bill.

Some 69% of born-again Christians taking part in the survey support its passage, and 61% of Evangelical Protestants questioned support the passage of the legislation.

In the past, religious conservatives were among the groups most opposed to the passage of casino legislation.

The survey also shows that 69% of Texans support separate legislation that would only legalize online and in-person sports betting, including 31% who strongly support it.

The survey was conducted earlier this month. Some 1,200 Texans took part.

To be enacted, the legislature needs to approve a bill, which would then head to the state’s voters for a referendum. Under the current bill, tax revenue raised from the casinos and gambling would provide tax relief and funds for education and public safety.

In recent months, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan, both Republicans, were somewhat supportive of seeing four destination casinos and eight smaller casinos spread across the state.

But even with this growth in support, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, another Republican, needs to back the bill for it to pass in the state senate, according to Mark P. Jones, a coauthor of the new survey. Patrick is seen as a powerful leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Jones added.

Jones is a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and a senior research fellow at the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs.

Outlook for the Bill

In his latest public comments, Patrick has yet to signal support for expanded gambling.

“While Patrick may still oppose casino gambling, there is a reasonable possibility that he will acquiesce, given the combination of Abbott and Phelan’s support combined with the aggressive lobbying of casino gambling advocates, such as the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and a host of prominent and influential Texans,” Jones told Casino.org.