TX Voters Won’t Weigh In On Casino Gaming Next Year As Proposal Dies In Committee

Posted By Derek Helling on May 28, 2021

When it comes to legal gambling in Texas, the status quo will still be a go for at least a few more years. A Texas casino amendment proposal won’t see a vote of either TX legislative chamber in this session.

That means the measure won’t appear on the ballot for Texans in November of 2022. Still, this effort probably represented the strongest push to expand gaming in the Lone Star State yet.

Texas casino amendment proposal meets its end

With the legislative session closing on May 31, a potential amendment to the state’s constitution that would have authorized casino gaming has languished in the TX House Committee on State Affairs. Had the legislature approved, registered voters in the state would have had the chance to decide the issue next year.

House Joint Resolution 133 called for facilities in four of the state’s biggest cities. Those would have been Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

It would have also established a TX Gaming Commission to regulate the activity. The measure called for a 25% tax on revenues from slots. It also would have imposed a 10% rate on the same from table games.

It isn’t surprising that the measure failed. TX has a strong Conservative majority in its legislature, which is traditionally opposed to legalized gambling. That same caucus already succeeded at killing off an attempt to legalize sports betting in TX earlier this year.

It will be surprising, though, if that group continues to hold the same amount of sway going forward. Potential stakeholders in gambling expansion are growing bolder.

TX sports teams, casino developers lobbying for change

At some point, the “golden rule” may win out over Conservative anti-gambling sentiments. The golden rule meaning in this case that those who have the gold make the rules.

Before the death of Sheldon Adelson earlier this year, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. lobbied for casino gaming in TX with all of its financial resources. They were joined by professional sports teams in the state, including the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks.

Lawmakers can try this again in 2023, hoping to get the issue on the ballot for November of 2024. While it’s uncertain to what extent the Las Vegas Sands would be in on spending again without Adelson’s presence, the company’s interest in the market may not diminish.

Additionally, there should be a new sales pitch for pushing sports betting legalization at that time as well, courtesy of one of TX’s neighbors to the east.

Will Louisiana sportsbooks help sell TX sports betting?

Last fall, Louisianans in all but nine of the state’s parishes voted to legalize sports betting in their neighborhoods. Enabling legislation is working its way through the legislature there right now.

That means some time within the next year, Texans close to the state line in the appropriate parishes will be able to drive a short distance and place legal bets from their phones. Proponents could use that to sell legalizing sports betting in TX as a way to keep Texans’ tax dollars in TX instead of going to the coffers in LA.

There’s no guarantee that casino gaming will be married to sports betting in a legislative proposal for 2023, however. If forced to choose between the two, gaming proponents might take casinos and save the fight for sports wagering for another day.

What’s certain right now is that a vote on either issue will have to wait. The lobbying for gambling expansion in 2024 might begin shortly, though.

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