The Push for Texas Sports Betting and Casino Legalization in 2025 is Already Underway

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: May 6, 2024 08:00 PM
The Push for Texas Sports Betting and Casino Legalization in 2025 is Already Underway

New Dallas Mavericks majority owner Miriam Adelson has reportedly given millions of dollars to a political committee that could end up advancing the issue of Texas sports betting and casino legalization.

As the figurehead of the family that controls Las Vegas Sands Corp, Adelson and company are clearly most interested in the legalization of casinos in the Lone Star State. However, this push goes hand-in-hand with the issue of sports betting in Texas. It is highly unlikely the state legalizes one without the other. And even if casinos get the green light first, the launch of sports gambling in the Lone Star State would become the next natural progression.

Anyhow, Adelson’s contributions to the Texas Sands PAC are officially in multimillion-dollar territory. What does this investment signal? Will it have a tangible impact on the future of casino and sports betting legalization in Texas? When will we know the extent of said impact? Let’s dive head-first into a topic that’s bound to become bulletin-board material Texas gears up for their legislative sessions next year.

New Dallas Mavericks Ownership Group Pours Over $4 Million into Political Action Committee

Holden Wilen of the Dallas Business Journal reported extensively on Adelson’s recent contributions to a political action committee (PAC). Here are the details that stand out most:

“Miriam Adelson poured $4.1 million into a political action committee in Texas ahead of March's primary elections — signaling her increased interest in Lone Star State politics amid efforts to legalize gambling. Adelson, part of the new majority ownership group of the Dallas Mavericks and head of the family that controls Las Vegas Sands Corp., made the contribution to the Texas Sands PAC on Feb. 6, according to a Feb. 26 campaign finance report. Her contribution came two months after her family finalized its purchase of a majority stake in the Mavericks from longtime owner Mark Cuban on Dec. 27…Las Vegas Sands, a casino company that generated more than $10 billion in revenue in 2023, also contributed $9,000 to the PAC between December and February. The company launched the PAC in January 2022 with $2.3 million of initial funding from Adelson.

“The campaign finance report shows Texas Sands PAC spent $1.9 million supporting 35 candidates in primary races this year — an average of nearly $56,000 each. House Speaker Dade Phelan received the largest contribution at $200,000 in his heated state representative primary race. Phelan, a Republican from Beaumont, came in second to David Covey in the primary and the two are headed to a May runoff. Phalen has feuded with the far right wing of the GOP and Attorney General Ken Paxton, who backs Covey. Phelan supported the House's impeachment of Paxton last year.”

Okay, we now know where the money from Adelson went. Now the question is: Why?

Here’s How Miriam Adelson’s Political Spending Impacts the Future of Texas Sports Betting and Casino Legalization

Not mentioned above: The money Adelson poured into the Texas Sands PAC has already been distributed to a bunch of politicians beyond just Phelan. Most of the recipients are Republicans—no real surprise given they dominate the political majority.

However, some of the money has gone to Democrats. More importantly, funding from the PAC has generally gone to policymakers and candidates who are not opposed to the legalization of casinos or sports betting in Texas. 

There is a level of “well, duh” to this tidbit. That doesn’t make it any less significant. Las Vegas Sands Corp has already spent plenty of money lobbying Texas to expand their gambling laws. This latest source of funding is clearly an attempt to help install lawmakers who will be more favorable to the Texas casino and sports betting discussion in 2025, when the state legislature meets again.

Heck, even Adelson’s purchase of the Mavericks is seen as an angle. It not only further entrenches her and her company into the state of Texas, but it offers an additional means of capitalizing on the legalization of sports betting and casinos in the Lone Star State. There is already talk of opening up a resort-style casino with the Mavs’ home arena (American Airlines Center) at the center of it all.

Does Adelson’s Investment Tell Us Anything About the Future of Gambling in Texas?

The answer to this question is both yes and no.

On the one hand, this latest news doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. Casinos and online sportsbooks in the United States want to enter the Texas market. That’s not news. The Lone Star State profiles as a top-three gambling market. Of course these operators want the opportunity to work within it.

On the other hand, Adelson and Las Vegas Sands Corp are clearly upping the ante to push for Texas gambling reform. From purchasing a billion-dollar sports organization to investments in lobbying to increasing their political footprint, this is clearly a matter they will aggressively pursue into 2025.

Whether these efforts prove successful is a separate matter. So many critical factors continue to work against Texas sports betting and casino legalization

For starters, there is Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who has serious influence over the Senate’s agenda. He maintains the legislative chambers don’t have the support necessary to bring new gaming laws to a vote. Many believe Texas will have a hard time legalizing casinos and sports betting until he leaves office.

Beyond that, there’s a lot of overhaul required for a casino (and sports betting measure) to be successful. Not only does there need to be a two-thirds majority to approve a constitutional amendment, but the Texas sports betting and casino industry would be starting from scratch. Officials may be more hesitant to green light reform when so much legwork will be involved when it comes to brick-and-mortar construction, licensing applications, website implementation, regulatory procedures and so on.

Still, when you factor in the purchase of the Mavs, there’s no way Adelson and Las Vegas Sands are spending this much money on a total whim. There has to be some level of confidence in imminent reform. But we can’t know for sure until the 2024 elections play out and the 2025 legislative meetings that follow them.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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