There is increasing pressure on Texas authorities to legalize and open up the casino gambling and sports betting markets in the Lone Star State and capitalize on a captive market that is currently spending its dollars in other states and even off-shore.
It isn’t often that politicians from the Republican and Democratic political parties agree with each other, and even when they do, they don’t admit it that often in public. So, when it does happen, it is a pretty big deal, and the issue of legalizing gambling in the state of Texas is one such occasion.
Two Texan state lawmakers from across the divide, namely state Representative John Kuempel (Republican – city of Seguin) and Senator Carol Alvarado (Democrat – city of Houston), have backed bipartisan legislation to open up casino gambling and sports betting in the state.
In addition to legalization, the bills presented make provision for four brand new casinos to be built. One in each of Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. It would also allow the three federally recognized Native American tribes to develop fully-fledged casinos with slot machines, which have not been permitted until this point.
Because America is, as its name would suggest, a union of states, each territory has the right to pass its laws as long as they are not in direct conflict with Federal Law, which leads to situations like the legalization of gambling where it is permitted in some states but not others.
For example, in New Jersey, both online gambling and traditional land-based casinos have been perfectly legal since January 2011. On the other hand, when it comes to online gambling in Illinois, not every type of game is legal – sports betting and lotteries are legal. Still, online casino games and poker are not.
While this is undoubtedly great news from the gambling and iGaming industries, there is still a long way to go before the law is overturned. First, each of the bills would require a two-thirds majority vote among lawmakers in Texas to pass. Even then, if it does give, the bill would then be voted on by Texas’ registered voter population before gambling is legalized.
“Now is the time to let voters decide on legalizing casino gaming across Texas. Texas loses billions of dollars a year to our neighbouring states that allow gaming and this measure would bring that revenue back to Texas, create tens of thousands of jobs and cut down on illegal gambling,” said Sen. Alvarado in an official statement.
There is strong support for the bill from within the existing gambling industry in America, with resort and casino company Las Vegas Sands standing firmly behind the push towards legalized gambling and sports betting in Texas.
“Our commitment is to develop transformational destination resorts that create tens of thousands of jobs and produce billions in revenue for the state while also providing robust economic benefits to the local host communities,” said CEO of Las Vegas Sands Rob Goldstein.
While the state’s largely conservative and Republican-leaning voter base has historically been stringently opposed to expanding the legalization of gambling in the state – only the Texas state lottery, some horse and greyhound racing and bingo are legal as it currently stands – recently polls of residents of the state seem to indicate that opinion is changing quickly.
Las Vegas Sands seem incredibly confident the long-standing ban will be overturned sooner rather than later and are already looking to the future and making plans for Texas.
“We’ll look at the entire market of Texas, but focus primarily on Dallas because that is where the greatest bleed of money is going, across the Oklahoma border. While it has a strong tourism industry, we can enhance that,” said senior vice president of government affairs for Las Vegas Sands, Andy Abboud.