The Push for Legalized Gambling in Texas – Brownwood News
October 29, 2022
[Story By Jacob Lehrer]
Texas has some of the strictest gambling laws in the United States. However, there’s been a push in the state to legalize gambling, casinos, sports betting, and the like, by Texas residents, politicians, coalitions, casinos, online gambling companies, and more. Over two dozen states have legalized the practice.
Last year there was an aggressive push to get a bill passed through the Texas legislator. However, while the bill was given a hearing, it did not make it into chambers. That has not stopped supporters of legalized gambling to keep pressing for it to the Texas government, especially for the the upcoming 2023 legislature.
Included in these proponents is Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who started an alliance to support legalized sports betting. The Sports Betting Alliance partners are the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Astros, Houston Texans, Texas Rangers, and other Texas professional sports teams, some of whom have partnered already with online gambling companies and casinos.
This year, there has been a Political Action Committee called the Texas Sands PAC, a PAC by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which has been pushing again for legalized gambling in the state. They have been donating tens of thousands of dollars to Democrat and Republican Texas congresspeople and Texas senators. Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and speaker Dade Phelan have been given donations up to $150,000 for their campaigns.
Many Texans are supportive of the practice and see that Texas would make billions in legalized gambling just from the population size and how many millions of Texans already travel to gamble anyways. Even Governor candidate Beto O’Rourke has supported it, saying that he would consider passing it while campaigning this year. He notes that millions of Texans are spending over a billion dollars in the industry, but that money is not going into the state of Texas, its going elsewhere.
Proponents of legalized gambling discuss many of the revenue benefits states get once they’ve legalized gambling, sports betting, and casinos. There are billions in revenue annually that Texas could boost into their economy just from gambling practices alone. According to the Sports Betting Alliance, the Texas Legislature itself could make 250 million dollars in tax revenues a year. The argument is that legalizing gambling would provide thousands of jobs, and hundreds of millions in tax revenue for state funded education, infrastructure, and other necessary government programs.
There is a reasonable resistance to gambling. The primary fear is increasing addiction amongst Texas residents. This comes as no surprise as our society grapples with social media addiction and the same algorithms on our social media are similar to slot machines. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, a strong opposer to legalized gambling, still holds that position going into the 2023 legislature if he is re-elected.