An attraction in Oklahoma that butters its bread with business from Texas is almost ready to double down. A $600 million Choctaw Casino expansion will see its grand opening early next month.
The facility near Durant, Oklahoma, features new hotel rooms and other amenities. For officials in Texas, it could drive home the point that they are losing tax dollars by maintaining the status quo.
Details about the Choctaw Casino expansion
The Choctaw Casino and Resort’s latest development took about two and a half years to complete. There are 1,000 guest rooms spread over 21 new floors. In addition, guests can enjoy two new pools. The casino has also upgraded an entertainment area for children.
New dining options include 1832 Steakhouse, a new sports bar, and multiple lounges. There are also two new theatres and a retail shopping area. Of course, a casino wouldn’t spend that kind of cash and not revamp its gaming as well.
The new gambling options include:
- Over 3,300 new slot machines featuring new games
- 40 new gaming tables
- A new poker room with 30 tables
The casino plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 5 then put on a celebratory fireworks display on Aug. 6.
The expansion is meant to attract Texans to visit frequently. The casino says that about 2/3 of its guests live in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Overall, eight out of every 10 patrons are Texans.
While the new addition is certainly built to impress, the legal status of gaming in TX alone might be enough to keep some TX residents leaving the state. Texans going elsewhere wasn’t enough to inspire a possible change to that situation this year, though.
Texas gambling laws gaining steam in legislature
Legislative efforts to put casino gaming on the ballot next year fell short in Austin, as did a similar measure for legal sports betting. As a result, the now earliest juncture that voters in Texas could decide the fate of either issue will now be 2024.
Currently, the only forms of legal gaming within the borders of Texas are the Texas Lottery and a small number of tribal casinos. This last effort represented the furthest that forms of expansion like Texas sports betting have traversed along the legislative path.
Both that and the push for commercial casinos had some notable supporters. That included the Las Vegas Sands Co. and TX sports entity owners like Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones. Some research suggests referendums to approve gaming expansion would pass.
The difficulty seems like it would be in getting such issues on the ballot, however. Not only is there significant resistance in the state from social conservatives but other gambling interests, like the Choctaw Casino and Resort, would love to see the status quo remain in place.
For example, the Chickasaw Nation hired Daniel Hodge, a former chief of staff to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, to lobby against Texas gambling expansion. Regardless, the fact that the proposals actually saw votes in committees represented progress.
For at least the next few years, Oklahoma tribal casinos won’t have to worry about their steady flow of customers across the border getting stifled by new competition in Texas. Ultimately, the loss of potential tax dollars might make Texas lawmakers reconsider, though.