A new poll in Texas shows that 75% of respondents support a gambling expansion bill that would introduce gambling casinos into major cities. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
According to a survey conducted by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs, there is significant public support for the legalization of casinos in Texas. Of those surveyed, 75% would support a new casino gaming bill that would allow full-service casinos in major cities, as well as the eventual legalization of sports betting.
41% strongly support the proposal
The poll, the results of which were published Thursday, surveyed a wide range of people, including individuals from different political parties, genders, religions and ethnicities. Of the 1,200 poll respondents, 41% strongly support the proposal, while 13% strongly oppose it.
Texas has historically been a conservative state when it comes to the expansion of gambling, but public opinion on the subject now appears to be changing. Conservative Christians have often been the most vocal critics of expansion, but the survey found that 61% of evangelical Protestants and 69% of born-again Christians polled would support an expansion bill.
Gambling expansion legislation
Focus on scan It is Senate Joint Resolution 17, introduced in November by Senator Carol Alvarado. The initial goal of the bill will be the development of destination casinos in Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. Sports betting and other forms of gambling will follow the line if they get enough support. Race cars located in these cities will also be able to offer limited forms of casino gambling at greyhound racing tracks.
The House and Senate must approve the bill before it can be put to a public vote
The worry about any bill expanding gambling in Texas is that it will stall in the legislature. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate must approve the bill before it can be put to a public vote. Some prominent lawmakers who were previously against expanding gambling in the state appear to have backed down somewhat.
Both Governor Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dad Phelan have expressed their willingness to consider allowing commercial casinos in Texas. One of the biggest uncertainties is the position of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who will likely need the bill’s support to pass a Senate vote. Since the bill would amend the constitution, it would need two-thirds support in both houses of the legislature.
Casino companies lobbying efforts
Casino companies have been pressing hard for support to expand. Las Vegas Sands is leading the charge, contributing at least $3 million in 2022 to several lawmakers and legislative groups. It has at least 63 lobbyists on the ground in the state, more than any other entity. According to the Texas Ethics Commission, Las Vegas Sands and its affiliates plan to pay lobbyists at least $6 million in 2023.
The main forms of legal gambling in Texas are the state lottery, three tribal casinos offering limited casino gambling, and similar racing betting.
Dallas Mavericks club owner and billionaire Mark Cuban has publicly supported the expansion of casino gambling in Texas, partnering with Las Vegas Sands in the process. He hopes to build a new arena for the Mavericks that will be part of a casino resort.