Texas Gambling Future Likely Up to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick As Legislature Begins Session

By | January 2, 2023

Texas’s politically powerful Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R, continues to have strong influence over whether expanded gambling could move forward in the Republican-dominated state senate.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, pictured above. The Republican leader has sway over whether any expanded gambling proposal will move forward in the upcoming legislation session. (Image: CNN)

Patrick is said to run the senate chamber with an iron fist. The next session begins on January 10.

“The creation of destination casinos rests with … Dan Patrick, whose strong control over the Texas senate provides him with the power to determine the fate of any casino gambling legislation, which will only pass if he explicitly or, at least, implicitly, supports it,” Rice University professor Mark P. Jones told Casino.org.

If Patrick is willing to entertain a casino gambling proposal, it is very likely that whatever legislation passes will have been revised and modified to reflect any demands or concerns that the lieutenant governor might have.”

No Movement

But Patrick recently said that for now there is no “movement” on gambling. He adds that none of his fellow Republicans in the senate has filed a bill on the issue.

“I haven’t had anyone mention it to me, that they are interested in doing anything,” Patrick recently told KXAN, a Houston TV station.

A lot of talk out there, but I don’t see any movement on it,” Patrick added.

Abbott Changes Tune

Last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, signaled a change in his position when he said he would at least consider the concept.

“We don’t want slot machines at every corner store, we don’t want Texans to be losing money that they need for everyday expenses, and we don’t want any type of crime that could be associated with gaming,” Renae Eze, a spokesman for Abbott, was quoted recently by the Houston Chronicle.

But, if there is a way to create a very professional entertainment option for Texans, Gov. Abbott would take a look at it,” Eze added.

The governor’s comments led Jones to say it appears that Abbott “is softening his prior anti-casino gambling stance, in particular to the proposal by the Las Vegas Sands and others to establish a limited number of luxury destination casinos in Texas.”

Lobbyists Busy

Meanwhile, lobbyists are promoting expanded gambling in the state. More than 300 lobbyists are working on the issue, the Chronicle said.

State records show that Las Vegas Sands alone now has 74 lobbyists in Texas.

“The lobbying efforts of the pro-destination casino forces are bearing fruit, and … Abbott is increasingly being persuaded that the economic and tax revenue benefits of luxury destination casinos outweigh their negative societal costs,” Jones said.

Also, former Gov. Rick Perry, also a Republican, is a paid spokesman for the Sports Betting Alliance — a group of professional sports franchises in Texas and gaming companies.

Alvarado Legislation

In November, state Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, introduced a bill to authorize four destination casinos and allow sports wagering in the state. There also would be limited expanded gambling at racinos and tribal casinos under her legislation.

Jones points out that Alvarado’s bill provides “something for all of the state’s different gambling constituencies, ranging from the destination casino lobby interested in access to the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio markets, the half dozen existing horse and dog tracks, and the three Native American tribes presently operating Class II casinos.”

If Patrick adopts a supportive or neutral position, then it is quite possible that Alvarado’s SJR 17 bill could receive the two-thirds support in the Texas House and Senate this spring, and then be on the ballot in November of 2023, when it would almost without question receive the vote of a majority of Texas voters according to recent public opinion polls,” Jones predicted.

Slow Pace

But any changes would likely be done slowly.

“At best we’re likely to see a modest expansion of gambling in the next legislative session,” Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, told Casino.org. “The state has always tiptoed towards expanded gaming so they are likely to take this very slow if at all.”

The post Texas Gambling Future Likely Up to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick As Legislature Begins Session appeared first on Casino.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *