GOP megadonor and CEO/Chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation Sheldon Adelson has his eyes on a potentially massive casino market: Texas.
According to the Texas Tribune, Adelson is gearing up for a lobbying blitz to bring casino gambling to the Lone Star State. Las Vegas Sands lobbyist Andy Abboud confirmed that the company is setting its sights on Texas earlier this week. The Texas Tribune also notes that The Sands Corporation is exploring other possible casino markets such as New York, Japan, and Brazil.
Adelson’s interest in Texas isn’t merely business-oriented. He and his wife donated $4.5 million to keep a Republican majority in the state House during the November election. The Republicans held onto the majority.
Texas: A Tough Nut To Crack
Texas comprises more than 8% of the US population, trailing only California on the list of most populous US states. Naturally, this makes it an ideal market for legal gambling with a potentially massive player base.
But Texas has staunchly opposed gambling legislation for years. The state has two tribal properties and a handful of casino cruise ships that set sail for international waters to allow gaming. But even existing gaming operators in the Lone Star State face a lot of opposition. The Texas legislature has seen a few attempts to legalize sports betting, but they’ve all been essentially dead on arrival.
Adelson and his lobbyists appear to be planning a hefty campaign to bring more casinos to Texas. Andy Abboud recent statements to the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association make the benefits crystal clear: the state’s deficit could reach $4.6 billion in 2021. Texas relies heavily on its oil and gas economy, which is increasingly volatile, especially in the age of Covid-19. Casinos could spur the economy without a reliance on such a volatile market while creating stable, well-paying jobs for Texans. Rather than sending that revenue opportunity to neighboring states, Texas could capitalize on a massive casino gaming opportunity.
Of course, opposition still runs rampant, as conservative voices are prevalent among the Texas population. Spokespeople from the Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission and Texas Values each have voiced their opinions against adding more gambling options in the state. Both arguments boil down to two points: it’s not good for the economy, and it’s not good for families.
Online Vs. Land-Based Gambling
Adelson’s interest in the Texas gambling market is particularly interesting due to his well-documented opposition to online gambling. If online gambling were legalized in Texas, it could instantly become the largest sports betting market in the country. And with an avid fan base for multiple NFL and pro sports franchises, operators would chomp at the bit to let their products loose in the gigantic Texan market.
Whether online gambling or new land-based options will come to Texas first remains to be seen. But based on Adelson’s ramped-up activity in the state and recent attempts to legalize digital gaming, it’s sure to be a market to watch.