Fertitta Wants To Bring NHL Team To Houston, Along With Destination Casinos

Written By Phil West on February 29, 2024
Photo of Tillman Fertitta, who wants to bring an NHL team and casinos to Houston, Texas

Tillman Fertitta wants to bring an NHL team to Houston. The CEO of Fertitta Entertainment, Inc., which owns several Golden Nugget casino resorts, Landry’s, Inc. restaurants and the NBA’s Houston Rockets, is also calling anew for Texas to legalize casinos in the Lone Star State.

Fertitta told Bloomberg earlier this month that he believes casinos make financial sense for Texas. As long as they’re Texas-sized.

“Let’s do something to bring tourism and the business traveler and conventions to Texas. And these need to be billion-dollar properties that do that. We need to do it right and build the casinos, and not have a bunch of slot machines at every single little grocery store.”

Fertitta and Adelson have donated millions to Texas lawmakers

Currently, there’s only a trio of tribal-run casinos legally operating in Texas. Along with commercial casinos, Texas online casinos remain illegal. While it’s unclear how legislation to legalize casinos will fare when the Texas House and Senate reconvene in 2025, Fertitta intends to be at the forefront of lobbying efforts.

His cause is being aided by Miriam Adelson, who leads the family that runs the Las Vegas Sands Corp. political action committee and owns the Dallas Mavericks. Sands has donated over $1 million to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaigns.

The Adelsons are also lobbying Texas lawmakers to approve destination casinos next year, Bloomberg reported.

“In 2023, Adelson gave more than $2 million to Texas campaigns. Las Vegas Sands registered 104 lobbyists with the state that year, according to data compiled by the Texas Ethics Commission. That’s an increase from the 76 in 2021, the first time Las Vegas Sands got involved at the state Legislature level. She also donated $2.3 million to a political action committee called Texas Sands PAC.”

Like Adelson, Fertitta has donated a significant amount of money to Texas politicians, according to Bloomberg.

“Since January 2018, Fertitta has given about $3.1 million in cash and in-kind gifts to Texas politicians and political action committees.”

Adelson’s new partner in Mavericks management, Mark Cuban, has also been a visible proponent of legalizing casinos in Texas. He told Bloomberg that casinos must be a part of any destination resort.

“Look at the size, scope and economics of resort destinations with and without a casino. Even though the casino isn’t a huge part of the economics, it supports scale and depth.”

Fertitta is already serving the Texas market, in a sense, with a destination resort casino. Only it’s in Lake Charles, LA, 30 miles from the Texas border and about two hours east of the expansive Houston metro area.

Fertitta says NHL team would pump excitement into downtown Houston

Last week, Tillman announced his wishes to bring pro hockey to Houston.

Houston Public Media reported that Fertitta told Bloomberg that NHL games would energize the downtown Houston area like other sports games and musical events do.

“We are talking to the NHL, but it’s got to be good for both of us. We just know that when there’s a concert downtown, how it activates downtown, we know what the Astros do for downtown, we know what even soccer does for downtown.”

Houston has never had an NHL franchise. Two professional hockey teams, both named the Aeros, competed in Houston from 1972-78 and from 1994-2013.

Photo by AP Photo/Michael Wyke
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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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