Wild West gunslingers, politicians and soldiers in the 19th century once gathered around saloon tables in Texas cow towns for a night of booze and gambling.
However, despite Texas’ “come and take it” mentality, the popular pastime was soon outlawed due to passage of the 18th Amendment at the turn of the century making alcohol and gambling illegal throughout the US.
Texas still outlaws most forms of gambling, but some Texan legislators are looking to change that. These are the candidates to vote for in the 2022 general election if legalized online gambling in Texas is on the top of your voting priorities list.
Carol Alvarado (D-Houston)
Sen. Carol Alvarado has served as one of the key advocates for legalized gambling in Texas for more than a decade. Alvarado introduced her first piece of gambling legislation in 2009, looking to put the issue on the ballot for voters to consider.
Alvarado’s most recent legislation, SJR 49, filed in 2021, would allow voters to decide whether to amend the Texas Constitution to legalize gambling and permit the building of four casino resorts in Austin, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and San Antonio. Both bills were left pending in committee.
Sen. Alvarado said in a statement:
“Now is the time to let voters decide on legalizing casino gaming across Texas. Texas loses billions of dollars a year to our neighboring states that allow gaming, and this measure would bring that revenue back to Texas, create tens of thousands of jobs and cut down on illegal gambling.”
John Kuempel (R-Seguin)
As vice-chair of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, Rep. John Kuempel is another Texas lawmaker leading the fight for legalized online gambling.
Kuempel filed HJR 133 in 2021 as a companion to Alvarado’s SJR 49. Like SJR 49, Kuempel’s bill was also left pending in committee.
In 2021, Rep. Kuempel vowed to try again when lawmakers meet again for the 2023 legislative session, saying: “Let’s roll the dice.”
Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio)
Sen. Roland Gutierrez also joined in on Kuempel and Alvarado’s 2021 push for legalized gambling in Texas.
Filed by Gutierrez in 2021, SJR 36 would amend the Texas Constitution and pave the way for commercial casinos in Texas. The joint resolution would allow the Texas Legislature to pass laws permitting the licensure of up to 12 casinos, and SB 616, another piece of legislation written by Gutierrez, does just that.
Rep. Gutierrez’s joint resolution and bill both died before reaching a vote, he said:
“We need to come up with taxing revenue that doesn’t come from raising folks’ property taxes. We’re losing, anecdotally, $3 billion to every state around us, those four states around us that have gaming”.
Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa proposed SJR 39 and SB 736 in 2021 that would give Texans a voice in the legalization of sports betting.
This bill offered legalized in-person and online sports betting in Texas. Texas’ Sports Betting Alliance, comprised of several Texas professional sports teams, has backed Hinojosa’s legislation.
“Texans have a strong sense of independence, value their individual liberty, and want the freedom to make their own choices,” said Cara Gustafson, spokesperson for the Sports Betting Alliance. “The decision about whether to legalize sports betting or participate in sports betting should be left up to each Texan without government interference.”