Don’t Hold Your Breath for Gambling in Texas

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Part of the Dallas skyline is seen from behind the stands during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl on October 07, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images/AFP

Texas trails only California in terms of population, which means it would be fertile ground for new sportsbooks and for gaming companies to build casinos throughout the Lone Star State. However, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has been a major stumbling block to getting any gaming legislation passed, and that will likely continue to be the case, as he will be in his position until at least 2026.

No Gambling in Texas

Old Western movies often depict gunslingers sitting around a poker table or casinos in the backrooms of dusty saloons. But you won’t find any commercial casinos in Texas, nor has sports betting been approved, leaving betting apps and mobile sites as the only legal option.

However, there are signs that at least some legislators are in favor of bringing gaming to the Lone Star State. For instance, Representative Jeff Leach watched his sports betting bill advance through the House for the first time when HJR 102 was approved by getting 101 votes, inching past the 100 votes needed to advance to the Senate.

But Lieutenant Governor Patrick signaled the bill wouldn’t stand a chance in the GOP-controlled Senate when he tweeted, “Texas is a red state. Yet the House vote on sports betting was carried by a Dem majority. The Texas Senate doesn’t pass bills without GOP in the minority. The GOP majority guides our path.

“HJR102 also will not be referred. Can’t waste committee/floor time in the last days. #txlege”

And, indeed, it did not get referred and Representative Leach won’t be able to bring it up again until 2025 because Texas state legislators meet in alternating years.

Big Names Back Gambling

Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, is one household name in Texas that believes the Lone Star State needs gambling to bring new revenue streams to the state.

“All of those things can be enhanced by something that is presently going on in a big, big way, and we should be getting the benefit of it as citizens of Texas,” Jones said. “Other states surrounding us are. So, it’s a time I think for us to set the rules up and execute on it and get the benefits of it.”

It was rumored that Jones even tried to convince Lieutenant Governor Patrick on the topic but was unsuccessful.

Mark Cuban recently sold his majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks to the widow of Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, Miriam Adelson, for a reported $3.5 billion. Cuban has been loud and clear about his intentions to build a resort and casino as part and parcel of the Mavericks’ next stadium.

“I think what is misunderstood about the bill is that it is not a gambling bill as much as a tourism bill,” Cuban wrote when asked about the impact gaming would have in Texas. “Gambling is certainly a hook, but the real value to the state is to be a destination that people around the country and the world plan a year in advance and save to go to.

“Texas is an amazing state, but there are not destinations that families, weddings, conferences, and events dream of going to all year round. Ask your out-of-state friends how often they have saved up to bring their family to Texas. Ask anyone how often they look forward to coming here during the summer. You already know the answer.”