A survey conducted by the University of Houston shows that the majority of Texans support expanding gambling and bringing casinos to the Lone Star State.
The state is facing a roughly $1 billion budget deficit and the survey gauged support for different ways of increase the government’s tax revenue. Along with casinos, Texans also supported a tax on e-cigarettes, closing property tax loopholes and legalizing marijuana.
With recent developments, there is a clear pathway to casinos in Texas as the new Speaker of the House, Dade Phelan, made comments that he is at least open to the idea of allowing brick-and-mortar casinos. Although he doesn’t think it will make an immediate impact on the current shortfall.
“It gets brought up in every conversation, and if you want to discuss those two revenue sources, do it through the prism of a long-term commitment because it will not fix the current budget deficit or the ’22-’23 budget issues we have,” said Phelan in an interview with the Texas Tribune about legalizing casinos and marijuana.
Currently, there are many cardrooms located throughout the state, but a change in the laws could allow for Las Vegas-style casinos in a state that is already experiencing a boom as millions have begun to move to the state over the last few years.
These rooms are operating in a bit of a legal grey area. In May 2019, two Houston-area cardrooms were raided by law enforcement. Owners of the clubs were charged with money laundering and engaging in organized crime, but those charges were ultimately dismissed.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. is already in the process of getting a first-mover advantage in the state. Last November, Sheldon Adelson hired a team of lobbyists to push lawmakers in the directions of legal casinos.
Adelson passed away earlier this month, but it appears that the company is still pursuing Adelson’s vision in Texas.
Andy Abboud, the company’s senior vice president of government affairs said as much in a statement. He echoed Phelan’s sentiments, indicating that a long-term business outlook for whatever property is built in the state.
“The possibilities for expanding Texas’ tourism offerings are exciting and we look forward to working with lawmakers this session to present the potential opportunities that exist for robust, long-term economic development and jobs for the state,” said Abboud.