Dallas May Decide Stance On Casino Legalization Next Month, Lawmaker Says

Written By Phil West on January 26, 2024
Skyline of Dallas, where city council members may decide the city's position on casino legalization by February

A Dallas City Council member seeking to drum up support for legalizing casino gambling in Texas will move for a full council vote on the matter as soon as next month.

Councilman Chad West told PlayTexas that he’s looking for his city to help give the Texas State Legislature direction on casinos when they meet next.

“I anticipate a full Council briefing fairly soon in February followed by a vote from Council on whether or not to include advocacy for gambling legalization on our legislative agenda for the fall.”

There’s an appetite for casino discussion in Dallas

Commercial casinos are prohibited in the Lone Star State, and Texas online casinos are also barred. There are three tribal-run casinos that offer limited gaming options.

On Jan. 22, West brought the casino topic before the city’s Government Performance and Financial Management Committee. City Council members were able to discuss what casinos in Dallas might look like. The meeting included comments from recently retired Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who shared his positive experiences with casinos in Pittsburgh during his tenure there.

On Friday, West characterized the meeting to PlayTexas as helpful to advancing the dialogue on casinos in Dallas.

“I felt the committee briefing went well, generally. My goal was to provide a forum for councilmembers and staff to ask questions to trusted professionals like Craig Davis, the CEO of VisitDallas, who have been through the process of legalization of gambling in another major city. Craig and the former county administrator explained what they went through with the state regulatory authorities, and how they worked through public safety and taxation considerations. It was helpful.”

West also said he thinks there’s an urgency.

“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. 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.”

Texas Legislature meets again in 2025 unless governor calls a special session

Though the state’s governor can call a special session, the body typically meets every two years. It convenes again in 2025.

While Texas still remains behind many other states on casino and sports betting legislation, the Legislature did consider a bill for sports betting in Texas when they met last year. It got through the House on a 101-42 vote (needing 100 votes to pass per the state’s rules around amending the Texas Constitution) before it stalled in the Senate.

Photo by AP Photo/Brandon Wade
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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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