Some Texans Pushing Back on Sands Corp.’s Wishes For Texas Casinos

Written By Phil West on February 7, 2024
Photo of attorney Mitch Little, a conservative running for Texas Congress who has come out against the Sands Corp.'s push for Texas casinos

Last week, Patrick Dumont, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer, made headlines on a quarterly earnings call where he shared a vision for future casinos in Texas.

However, that vision for the future hasn’t sat well with all Texans.

Mitch Little, a self-declared “constitutional conservative and lifelong Republican” vying for a Texas House of Representatives seat in the upcoming November election, posted to X (formerly Twitter) in response to Dumont’s call for casinos in Texas.

Little: Casinos ‘bring sex trafficking and admit that they do’

Little’s allegations about casinos included “they bring sex trafficking and admit that they do,” “most of their revenue is from problem or addict gamblers,” and “the wealth transfer that occurs is a net negative economic effect on communities.” He also contended that should Texas legalize casino gambling beyond the limited number of tribal casinos in Texas, “The rich (will) get richer while Texas families bear the cost of debt, bankruptcy, and crime.”

The initial comments from Dumont on the Sands earnings called for “the liberalization of gaming” in Texas as Sands aims to “facilitate the development of integrated resorts in the State of Texas.”

Dumont, as part of the Sands Corp., aligned with Dallas Mavericks owner and TV personality Mark Cuban over his family’s purchase of the NBA franchise. Dumont is the son-in-law of Miriam Adelson, the casino magnate whose family purchased the Mavericks, and was named Governor of the NBA franchise.

Texas Family Policy: Adelson will ‘again’ lose casino battle

Texas Family Policy president Brady Gray also took to the social media platform to vow his organization would fight casino lobbying efforts. He claimed:

“Adelson spent more than $10 million last year on this effort and lost. I’m sure she plans to spend even more next session, again she will lose.”

Dan Patrick, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, is also a major obstacle to any gaming legislation. While the Texas House passed sports betting legislation in 2023, the Senate — which Patrick oversees — kept it from moving forward.

One source told Legal Sports Report, a sister site of PlayTexas, regarding sports betting, “As long as Dan Patrick isn’t on board, it’s not going to happen.”

Dallas may be on board. Will that matter?

But the Sands Corp. could have the Dallas City Council in its corner by next month, with Councilman Chad West leading an effort to take a council-wide vote on its stance. Should the measure pass, lobbying for casinos in Dallas could be part of the Council’s legislative agenda ahead of the state’s next session in 2025.

“As city leaders, we would be committing a disservice to our constituents if we fail to engage in discussions now about what legalization could look like for Dallas,” West told PlayTexas. “We need to discuss now how land use, public safety, taxation, and regulation will be handled if the state pulls the switch in a few months, allowing this new revenue and job source to roll out in Texas.”

Majority vs. the vocal, powerful minority

A Dallas Morning News story from January 2023 noted that 75% of Texans supported a proposed constitutional amendment by Sen. Carol Alvarado, prepared for the previous legislative session, “that would legalize sports betting and allow for up to four upscale ‘destination resorts.'”

But as that article noted:

“Measures to legalize more gaming always face an uphill climb in the GOP-controlled Legislature. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that gambling is banned in the Texas Constitution. To get gambling legalized, two measures must pass: a resolution to amend the constitution and a bill spelling out the details of licensing and regulation. Constitutional amendments require two-thirds approval in both the House and Senate. Voters would then have the final say.”

And while a majority supports legalizing casinos in Texas, a vocal minority clearly exists.

Photo by AP Photo/Eric Gay
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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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