Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is the lone Texas NBA owner to stay silent on current sports betting legislation filed in the Texas Legislature by state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and state Rep. Jeff Leach.
In the past two weeks, San Antonio Spurs owner Peter J. Holt and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta have endorsed legislation that would legalize Texas online sports betting.
Cuban’s silence on the issue stems from competing interests in the casino and sports betting markets and the possibility the Dallas Mavericks will have a new home in eight-10 years.
Cuban’s focus on a new stadium in a Dallas resort casino
Cuban, who has voiced support for sports betting in the past, has been tight-lipped this legislative session. This could be because of his stated focus on building a new stadium for the Mavericks within a future Dallas resort casino.
Two pieces of casino legislation – Senate Joint Resolution 17 sponsored by Sen. Carol Alvarado and House Joint Resolution 97 – sponsored by Rep. Charlie Geren, call for the creation of resort casinos in major Texas metropolitan areas.
There are slight differences between the two resolutions, and the Vegas Sands PAC, the late-Sheldon Adelson’s casino-focused committee, has thrown its support behind Geren’s bill. Under either resolution, Dallas would receive licensure for resort casino development.
Cuban has said the American Airlines Center, where the Mavericks, Dallas Stars and Dallas Wings call home, may not be the future of his franchise. Cuban and the Mavs have a lease with the 22-year-old AAC through 2031. In 2021, Cuban told the Dallas Morning News that he was “50-50” on renewing the lease.
What might also signal a move from AAC is the fact Cuban built a $70 million training facility in 2016 in the Design District, which is near the AAC but on a much larger tract of land and could be the site of a new resort casino stadium.
In explaining his pie-in-the-sky vision to the Fort Worth Star Telegram when the practice facility was being built, Cuban said, “I want to build an arena that’s 20 stories up in the air where every seat has a view of downtown [Dallas], whether that’s north, south, east or west, which would be very cool.”
Does Cuban have a conflict of interest?
Cuban’s plans do not clearly conflict with the passage of online sports betting. Indeed, the Dallas Mavericks is one of 11 Texas pro sports teams partnered with the Texas Sports Betting Alliance. Yet, Cuban hasn’t stood with nearly every other Texas pro sports team owner who’s individually supported online sports betting legislation.
Instead, when asked to comment on Senate Bill 715 and House Bill 1942, Cuban told Legal Sports Report, “I’ll pass. But thanks.”
This silence may have more to do with Cuban’s connection to the Vegas Sands PAC, which has never shown support for standalone sports betting legislation in Texas, than his personal opposition to sports betting. In fact, should Texas legalize online sports betting, the Dallas Mavericks could receive an online sports betting license allowing them to partner with an online operator.
So, Cuban and the Mavericks are already sorted out on the sports betting side. On the casino side, however, Cuban may have more work to do to connect his team to any Dallas casino development, which is why he has stated his interest in partnering with Sands should that day ever come.
Will Cuban fall in with other team owners?
There’s no pressing need for Cuban to weigh in on online sports betting at this point. His team is already partnered with the SBA, which has received enough support from billionaire sports owners to make the point to legislators.
Cuban seems keenly focused on making Dallas a greater destination for tourism on a par with Las Vegas.
“There’s no destination resort in Texas,” Cuban told the Dallas Morning News, “where, if you’re living in Pittsburgh or Indiana or Chicago, you say, ‘Hey, honey, we’re saving money to take the family to Texas.’ ”
If Cuban can work with Vegas Sands to achieve that for Dallas in the form of a casino resort and state-of-the-art arena for the Mavericks, then Texans should expect that Cuban will keep his options open by remaining silent on current Texas sports betting legislation.