Dallas Mavericks Minority Owner Mark Cuban Doubles Down on Future of Texas Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jan 4, 2024 12:00 AM
Texas sports betting can't be legalized for at least another 18 months, but that's not stopping Mark Cuban from continuing to invest in it.

When Mark Cuban sold his majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks at the end of 2023, many saw the move as his attempt to further the Texas sports betting agenda. His buyer, Miriam Adelson, is the largest shareholder of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, a casino operator that has repeatedly pushed for The Lone Star State to expand their gambling laws. Given Cuban's own support of gaming expansion in Texas, which included statements on turning the Mavs' arena into a casino-style resort, the transaction was, at the very least, a sign that both sides would continue advancing the sports betting issue in the months and years to come.
Fast forward a little more than one month, to January 2024, and Cuban once appears to be doubling down on the future of sports betting in Texas.

Barely one week after the sale of the Mavericks was officially completed, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation has assumed control of prime real estate owned by Cuban. This layer of the transaction is considered the latest bread crumb in a long trail of them. 

But where do they lead? Do they actually mean anything? And if they do, when might Texas legalize sports betting, assuming they ever do? 

Make no mistake, this matter is far from settled. And these transactions could simply be a series of hunches and bets on the future of casino and sports gaming in Texas that don’t pan out. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t parse the details even further.

Is the Dallas Mavericks Sale an Attempt by Mark Cuban and the Las Vegas Sands Corporation to Push Casino Gaming and Sports Betting in Texas?

Seeing that someone with influence over the Las Vegas Sands Corporation would be the majority owner of the Dallas Mavericks was interesting from the get-go. But the recent exchange of prime real estate is even more intriguing. It might even be outright telltale. Eric Fisher of Front Office Sports reported on the nitty-gritty details:

“Less than a week after the Adelson and Dumont families that control the Sands Corp. completed their deal to acquire majority control of the team, a company established by those families has taken control of prime real estate near downtown Dallas previously held by Cuban. The parcel, more than a dozen acres in size, currently houses the team’s practice facility and is valued at $42.9 million for tax purposes.

"Another company formed by the Sands Corp., the publicly traded casino and resort giant, has also purchased more than 200 acres in nearby Irving—near the location of the Dallas Cowboys’ former Texas Stadium—valued at more than $36 million. The Sands Corp. has not detailed its plans for the properties. But the Mavericks’ deal with Cuban, reportedly valuing the team between $3.5 billion and $4 billion, is premised in part on the development of a new arena and casino complex in Dallas.

That last detail is the most important. And until now, it has registered mostly as speculation. We had no real evidence that the Las Vegas Sands Corporation purchased the Mavericks with the intent to expedite their advocacy for Texas sports betting and casino gaming.

However, this real estate deal effectively confirms everything. 

Mark Cuban and the Las Vegas Sands Corporation Keep Deepening Their Ties to One Another

Cuban and the Sands Corporation have previously expressed interest in partnering together. The sale of the Mavericks was a major step in that direction. Even more notable, Cuban is maintaining his position as governor of the Mavs, even though that role is typically reserved for majority owners. That was—and remains—ironclad proof the two sides are, so to speak, in cahoots.

And now, we have this. It isn’t just the land transfer and purchase themselves. It’s the swiftness with which they were completed. Would there have been a rush to complete the transactions so soon after the Mavs sale if the purchases weren’t inextricably tied together?

Maybe we could have chalked this up to coincidence if sister companies of the Sands Corporation was only linked to land associated with the Mavs. But they also purchased land previously controlled by the NFL’s and Texas’ own Dallas Cowboys. There is no reason to complete that transaction in haste—unless it’s part of a larger plan.

Opposition to Texas Sports Betting and Casino Gaming Remains Strong

Many might be wondering why this matters. Two parties have a plan to advocate for the legalization of sports betting in Texas. So what? Pretty much every other pro sports franchise would like to see gambling greenlit. Why is this any different?

Well, for starters, the formulation of a concrete plan is always a major development. Cuban and the Sands Corp can now pitch policy makers on definitive blueprints for what a combination sports and casino resort complex would look like and how it would operate.

What’s more, neither Cuban nor the Sands Corp is likely to act with complete impulsion. Both sides understand the realities of the Texas sports betting debate. As lucrative business operators, they wouldn’t just complete a series of transactions like this on a random whim. There’s a chance they know…something.

Then again, this could just be a roll of the dice. The opposition to sports gambling in The Lone Star State is that fierce. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has repeatedly said the Senate doesn’t have anywhere near the votes required to move forward. He has also done his best to halt the exposure of previous initiatives on the Senate floor.

Most initially assumed Texas’ opposition was reserved exclusively for online sportsbooks in the United States. That would, in theory, be good news for Cuban and the Sands Corp. They’re trying to construct a retail (i.e. on-site) gambling experience. But Mr. Patrick, among others, have made it clear they’re equally concerned with how retail sports betting in Texas would impact the revenue stream of bingo halls and whether an increase in tourism is actually good for the state.

The Future of Texas Sports Betting and Casino Gaming is Hazy Best

Anyone hoping for some clarity on this matter might want to sit down. It likely isn’t coming anytime soon. 

The Texas state legislature convenes on the second Tuesday of odd numbered years. That means they won’t meet again until early 2025. At that point, the earliest Texas sports betting could be legalized is the middle of 2025

This says nothing of any potential delay in the rollout. The legalization of on-site Texas sports betting may not require a vote during the next general election, but it could still take months to get up and running. And in the event an approved Texas sports gambling proposal does need to appear on a general election ballot, The Lone Star State won’t debut any new gaming operations before 2027

So, could the latest transactions involving Cuban and the Sands Corp mean that Texas sports betting is headed in the right direction? Possibly. They certainly seem to think the issue is due for progress. But nobody will know for sure until next year—at the absolute earliest.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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