Legislators are unlikely to give voters the option to legalize gambling in Texas this year.
Legislators who wrote legislation to introduce casinos and sports betting to Texas have stated that they will not become law this year even though betting interests have spent millions of dollars and dozens of lobbyists at the effort. Dallas has been and continues to be a top target for a casino tourist resort.
“There’s not time for it to pass this session,” GOP Rep. John Kuempel said to The Dallas Morning News this week.
None of the measures to expand betting in Texas passed the first barrier with less than a month remaining in the legislative session. The measure required a two-thirds vote of lawmakers and needed a majority of voters’ approval to become law because most forms of betting are prohibited under the Texas Constitution.
When is sports betting legal in Texas? Kuempel said there was little political will to approve the legislation this year, particularly when lawmakers found that the budget gaps they intended to address with gaming income would be less than originally anticipated. He and Senator Carol Alvarado, a Democrat who collaborated with him on the initiative, assume that momentum is on their side regardless of the outcome.
According to Alvarado, who has been submitting some form of this legislation for over a decade, “I’m more optimistic than I’ve ever been,” told the Dallas Morning News. “We’ve known all this is a long-term attempt.”
The proposals presented by Alvarado and Kuempel would have given voters the option of amending the state Constitution to allow gaming. The ultimate goal was to legalize sports betting and eventually bring casino resorts to many major cities. The legislation would also have permitted the state’s three federally acknowledged Indian tribes to expand into full-fledged gaming, along with slot machines, on their property, a privilege that the government has long denied them.
The bill would have allowed the state to sell permits. These are called “skins” to online sports betting platforms such as DraftKings or Fanduel in order for them to collaborate with professional sports teams or horse racetracks but this has yet to require approval of two-thirds of lawmakers.
10% of the prize money would have gone to the state’s coffers to be used on public education.
The Sports Betting Alliance, which includes the Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks, and Texas Rangers, released a statement stating that their bill has been disrupted, but they were optimistic about getting a committee vote on a motion to regulate unofficial, or offshore, sports betting programs that do not provide consumer safeguards.
The Las Vegas Sands CorpThe late Sheldon Adelson’s gambling empire, made the greatest investment in developing gaming. The Sands spent at least $3 million on 74 lobbyists to make their case, in addition to a huge ad campaign that will run during the session. In a statement to the Dallas Morning News on Friday, they, too, adopted an optimistic tone.
Andy Abboud, senior vice president of government affairs for the Las Vegas Sands spoken,
“We have said from the beginning that we’re committed to Texas for the long haul,” “We have made great strides this session and have enjoyed meeting with lawmakers about our vision for destination resorts and answering all the questions they have.”