Texas Republicans Adopt Most Nuanced Anti-Gambling Party Platform On Record

Written By Phil West on June 10, 2024
An elephant painted like the Texas flag symbolizes The TX Republican Party approving the 2024 platform

Highlighting rifts within the Republican Party in Texas, and showing which side currently controls the party apparatus, Republicans at the state convention approved an eyebrow-raising platform that includes provisions against gambling and out-of-state donations.

Among other curious items in the platform, like requiring Bible study in schools and demanding the US government give full disclosure on UFOs, the platform directly targets gambling.

It not only opposes casinos in Texas; it encourages party members to refrain from accepting contributions from gambling interests.

Platform encourages candidates to reject donations from gambling PACs

The House made history in 2023 when it passed legislation to legalize Texas sports betting. The measure gained no traction in the Senate. Bills to legalize casinos didn’t receive a House floor vote. Republicans enjoy a significant majority in both chambers and control every state office.

The Texas Republican Party Platform has historically taken an anti-gambling stance albeit a more general one. In the 2020 party platform, the wording read, “We oppose the expansion of legalized gambling. We oppose and call for a veto of any budget that relies on expansion of legalized gambling as a method of finance.”

The 2024 Republican Party Platform provides a more nuanced opposition to gambling expansion. The plank in question states,

We oppose any expansion of gambling, including legalized casino gambling. We oppose and call for a veto of any budget that relies on expansion of legalized casino gambling of any type or size, whether as a standalone business or partnered with any other business or resort, as a method of finance. We call on all Republican legislators to decline campaign contributions from gambling PACs and lobbyists and oppose any effort from the House leadership or members of the House Calendars Committee to pressure members to vote for expanded gambling. We also call for the repeal of the vague “fuzzy animal” exception to Texas’ anti-gambling laws that allow non-cash prizes to be awarded based on use of eight-liner slot machines.

The language about campaign contributions appears to target Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Miriam Adelson, who contributed significantly to two PACs that donated to candidates in the recent primary cycle. Two Adelson-backed candidates won hotly contested runoff races last week. It included Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, who was challenged by a candidate supported by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Another provision in the platform further resists out-of-state influence on Texas politics. On limiting campaign contributions, it states:

“We urge immediate repeal of all limits on campaign contributions by American citizens to the candidates or causes of their choice. However, the State of Texas should pass legislation which bans campaign contributions and expenditures for non-federal elections that originate from outside the State of Texas including individuals, organizations, and political action committees, including any questions, propositions, amendments, etc., on any ballots.”

Platform aims to shut out Democrats from holding statewide positions

The platform, which the Texas GOP officially announced last Friday, also seeks to enshrine Republican influence in Texas politics with a particularly controversial idea. It requires that statewide office-holders win a majority of the popular vote in Texas’ 254 counties.

As the Washington Post‘s Karen Tumulty observed:

“Democrats in Texas are concentrated in a few urban areas, while Republicans are spread across the map. This system would effectively mean Democrats – who, as it is, haven’t won a statewide office since 1994 – would be shut out forever.”

The platform also includes several extreme positions, even by conservative standards, reflecting the Post’s assessment of the state, where “the latest round of primaries and runoff elections saw 15 Republican state House members lose to far-right challengers.”

The Republican platform clearly shows that the far-right side of the party has complete control in Texas.

This means it will be more challenging for moderate Republicans like Phelan to pass a sports betting bill through the House as they did in 2023.

Photo by LM Otero / 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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