Some Dallas City Council members, following a meeting discussing the pros and cons of bringing casinos to the city, may now advocate for legalizing casino gambling when the Texas Legislature next convenes to consider new laws.
Chad West, a Dallas City Council member who has led efforts to determine the legality of card rooms in Dallas, sought to open dialogue on gambling at the city’s Government Performance and Financial Management Committee on Jan. 22.
The Dallas Observer reported that, at the meeting, Carrie Rogers, director of the Dallas Office of Government Affairs, “said … the city has begun compiling a list of legislative priorities for 2025, and some council members said they’d like casino gambling to be considered.”
Pennsylvania official: Casinos helped revenue stay within our state lines
The meeting included testimony from recently retired Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who talked about his experience with gambling in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Observer, discussing Fitzgerald’s comments at the meeting, reported:
He said casino gambling was sold in the state in a couple of ways. One was the possibility of economic development — the jobs the casinos and associated hotels would bring to the state. The other was property tax relief for seniors.
The casinos would also help fund big projects across the state, like a hockey arena, for example. “Quite frankly, it’s been positive on the economic side,” Fitzgerald said. The decision has provided a lot of jobs, and he hasn’t seen much of an increase in crime as a result of the legalized gambling. “I’m not going to say everything’s been perfect with it, but it’s been a pretty positive experience for us,” he said.
Fitzgerald testified the casinos have been revenue generators since opening, with part of the rationale being “keeping the folks at home so that they would spend their money in Pennsylvania” rather than gamble at out-of-state casinos.
Currently, many visitors to Oklahoma casinos come across the Red River to do what they can’t do in their home state. The Observer cited a Dallas Morning News item that “nearly 80% of the customers at Choctaw Casinos and Resorts in Oklahoma come from Texas.”
In fact, a new casino in Oklahoma just 35 miles from the Texas border is opening this spring — only adding to Texans’ plentiful cross-border gambling options.
‘A casino would be a wonderful thing for us’
The topic of casinos in Texas was also broached at an Economic Development Committee meeting earlier this month, but council members had questions that “revolved around public safety, as well as casino gambling’s impact on the local community, economy and arts.”
Dallas City Council member Cara Mendelsohn asked Fitzgerald at the Jan. 22 meeting if revenues from the casinos meet officials’ expectations, and Fitzgerald confirmed they did.
Another council member, Jesse Moreno, wondered whether adding casinos to Dallas’ “thriving nightlife” would add a burden to public safety.
VisitDallas CEO Craig Davis, another proponent for casinos in Dallas who attended the meeting, fielded that concern:
“The city is known as a sophisticated city. It’s a place you’d bring somebody to have a great night out. … A casino would be a wonderful thing for us to help sell as another amenity. The devil would be in the details.”
How Mark Cuban’s land sale factors into the equation
One prominent advocate for casinos in Dallas, Mark Cuban, recently sold a 12-acre parcel of land across from the American Airlines Center (via a Cuban-held company) to the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, furthering a developing partnership including shared ownership of the Dallas Mavericks, and fueling speculation about the parcel being reserved for a future casino site.
West told the Observer, regarding why Dallas council members should advocate for casinos:
“I think it’s a question we need to address as a council because the state Legislature has already looked at this in the last session. It’s logical to assume they will do so again in 2025. So, for us to take a position on this one way or the other is the responsible thing to do.”
Currently, the state has no legal commercial casinos outside of three Texas tribal casinos, and most forms of gaming are illegal in Texas. The only Class III casino in Texas is the Lucky Eagle Casino operated by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. The other Texas tribal casinos belong to the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (Tigua). Both of these facilities operate under a Class II gambling license.