Lt. Gov. Patrick Says Casino Votes Still Lacking In Texas Senate

Written By Darren Cooper on December 6, 2023
Photo of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on a story about his comments on how the Texas Senate doesn't have the votes to pass legalized casino legislation.

Everyone who believes that the sale of the Dallas Mavericks to casino empress Miriam Adelson is part of a grand plot to bring legal casino gambling to Texas might have to hit pause.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the head of the Texas Senate, has repeatedly said that there is little interest in legalizing casino gambling in Texas. That’s despite his deep political connections to Adelson.

In an interview last week with CBS11, Patrick was asked point-blank about legalizing casino gambling.

“My experience and my knowledge is that we aren’t even anywhere close to having 15 votes or 16 votes for casinos. When [our last] session was over, there was not a hue and cry from voters calling their senators overnight, [saying] ‘Oh, gosh, I needed that bill.’

“Big things don’t happen overnight. You don’t wave the magic wand. You have to get in the trenches and grind it out.”

Sale of Mavs to Vegas families thought to be step toward legal gambling in Texas

There have been several attempts to legalize casino gambling in Texas in recent years. During the state’s last legislative session, bills to bring legal, resort-style casinos to the state failed in both houses of the Texas Legislature. Interestingly, no real effort has been made to legalize Texas online casinos, which could prove easier for lawmakers to get behind.

The sale of the NBA’s Mavericks seemed to happen overnight. Owner Mark Cuban agreed to sell the team last week to the families that run the Las Vegas Sands company for an estimated $3.5 billion, according to an Associated Press report.

Adelson had sold $2 billion of her shares to buy a professional sports team the day before the sale was announced. In a statement from the Adelson and Dumont families, they said they expect to wrap up the sale this month.

“The families are targeting a closing of the transaction by year-end, subject to the satisfactory closing conditions and approval by the NBA Board of Governors.”

Cuban will continue to run basketball operations

Cuban, 65, well known for his social media presence and his 16 seasons on the TV show “Shark Tank,” has long been a proponent of legalizing gambling in Texas. Some saw the sale of the Mavs as a step toward a new casino/resort basketball arena in downtown Dallas to replace American Airlines Arena, the home of the Mavs since 2001.

Adelson has long been the big name when it comes to promoting and lobbying for legalizing casino gambling in Texas. Why would her company buy the Mavericks if they didn’t see it as a chance to build a casino resort in Texas? The fact that they’re letting Cuban continue to run the Mavs only underscores the point that there’s something else at work here. They didn’t get into the NBA for the basketball.

Adelson is no stranger to Patrick. She has been donating money to Patrick through his PAC for years. Earlier this year, it was revealed Adelson had contributed $2.5 million to the Patrick PAC. Adelson also contributed $1 million to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign at the end of 2022.

Texas lawmakers have no appetite for sports betting as well as casinos

Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) was angry at sports betting measures stalling in the last legislative session. He points out that sports betting is already happening in Texas, just illegally and offshore. This is an argument used in states that have legalized sports betting.

House Bill 1942 would have created 16 online sports betting licenses for Texas sports franchises or facilities and taxed operators at 15%.

So, do Texans really want legalized casinos and sports betting? Polls have shown they do.

Patrick, however, has made it clear that he doesn’t see a big call for it.

Photo by AP Photo/Eric Gay
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Darren Cooper

Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He's won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

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