Efforts to legalize casino gambling in Texas has rapidly picked up support, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the projected $946 million budget deficit the state government is facing.
But the state’s Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t think there will be any progress on the issue, at least during this legislative session.
According to a local NBC affiliate, Patrick appeared on a Lubbock-based radio show and said that despite a majority of the state supporting expanded gambling, he doesn’t think it will go anywhere.
“It’s not even an issue that’s going to see the light of day this session,” said Patrick on the Chad Hasty Show on KFYO. “There may be a bill filed, but I doubt it.”
Patrick clearly isn’t aware of the handful of bills that have already been proposed by lawmakers.
Rep. Joe Deshotel filed a bill that would allow casino gambling in “certain coastal areas” and Sen. Roland Gutierrez proposed one that would allow a limited number of casinos in the state. Gutierrez also filed a constitutional amendment that would authorize 12 casinos in the Lone Star State.
Last month, Harold Dutton filed HB 1121, which would bring online sports betting to Texas. His bill mimics the infrastructure set up in Tennessee, which is currently the only online-only sports betting market in the country.
The legislation comes on the heels of a University of Houston survey that showed the majority of Texans support expanding gambling. The survey reported that 70% of the respondents were in favor of legalizing casino gambling.
Aside from the report, Las Vegas Sands Corp. has been pushing for casino gambling as well. Last November, former CEO and Chairman Sheldon Adelson hired a team of lobbyists to sway the legislative momentum in his direction. Adelson passed away in January, but it appears his company is still moving forward with the plans.
Gambling could also be a boon for struggling state coffers, but Patrick also said that the projected estimates wouldn’t even put a dent in the shortfall.
“Every year I tell them the same thing,” said Patrick. “Don’t talk about revenues, because the sports gaming, for example, that teams are trying to push this session… that generates, by their numbers $150 million a year. That’s a lot of money, but it pays for about a half of a day of our year.”