Texas Destination Resort Alliance Gathers Signatures With Sands Corp. Backing

Written By Phil West on April 15, 2024 - Last Updated on May 13, 2024
Austin, TX where lawmakers are receiving more lobbying from the Texas Destination Resort Alliance

Over the past few months, Patrick Dumont, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. president and chief operating officer, has been touting what he calls “an opportunity to develop destination resorts in the state of Texas.”

And now, the Sands Corp. is backing a website collecting petition signatures for Texans who also want that opportunity.

Texas Destination Resort Alliance is steadily gaining allies

The Texas Destination Resort Alliance, billed on its site as “a coalition of Texans from all walks of life, asking state legislators to allow us the opportunity to vote yes on a statewide constitutional amendment authorizing the development of destination resorts in the state’s major markets,” claims to have already rallied “tens of thousands of Texans” to support the effort.

The resort alliance also appears to be gaining allies among the state’s firefighting and law enforcement organizations. An April 6 news release heralded the support of police groups and firefighters in Arlington, Corpus Christi, Dallas and Houston.

Mike Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association, says in the release,

“Our top priority in any legislation is the impact it will have on public safety. We have confidence that all matters related to maintaining the high standard of public safety we uphold in the city of Dallas are fully addressed in this legislation with the creation of a new regulatory agency and the availability of new state dollars that could expand current public safety programs.”

Douglas Griffith, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, uses the coalition’s research, stating,

“Texans regularly travel out of state to visit entertainment resorts with casinos and spend an estimated $5 billion every year that benefits the schools, infrastructure, and state and local budgets of those other states. By allowing destination resorts in Texas, we can keep these funds in our state and use them to fund important programs such as education, property tax relief and public safety.”

Most Texans support legal casino resorts and sports betting

The Dallas Morning News touted a January 2023 study from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. The study showed that three in four Texans support legalizing sports betting and establishing casino resorts in the state.

But its story on the latest Sands efforts also quoted Will Hartnett, a former Texas House representative. Hartnett said he is concerned that Texas might be selling itself short on revenue. That’s based on what was proposed in the 2023 legislative session via House Bill 2843. Under HB 2843 prospective license holders would pay up to $2.5 million for the rights to run a casino in Texas.

Noting that a similar license is approximately $85 million in Massachusetts, Hartnett declared regarding HB 2843,

“This is the worst constitutional amendment I’ve seen in 50 years. This amendment effectively gives away casino licenses that are worth billions of dollars to handpicked insiders for cheap. In general, I think it’s a terrible way to raise money. But it’s especially bad because the state treasury will be cheated out of money that can go into helping people.”

In the same article, Alan Feldman, a Distinguished Fellow at the University of Las Vegas International Gaming Institute, opined about legalizing destination resorts, saying,

“I think it could be a really powerful economic driver. People might worry and say it will bring devastation and all kinds of problems, but I don’t think it will. Sometimes, I think Dallas sort of punches above their weight as a travel destination. But legalization could help elevate Dallas to the next tier of big cities and bring with it lots of benefits.”

With Sands’ lobbying efforts, Texas casinos have a steadfast support

Political consultant Bill Miller of Austin-based HillCo Partners appeared on Houston’s KTRH-AM last Friday to discuss the Sands lobbyists. He said,

“They have a lot of lobbyists and spend a lot of money … they stay in the game, and do not take a rest. They are always there pushing, pushing, and pushing. They are deep-pocketed and smart … they are doing what you have to do … trying to convince legislators that is a win-win for everyone.”

Sports betting and destination resort proponents in Texas can get behind legislation when the session reconvenes in 2025.


Image Credit: Harry Cabluck / AP Images

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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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