“Big Gambling” Eyes Texas as Biggest Prize
There is currently no casino-style gaming in the state of Texas. Texans who want to court Lady Luck either have to travel to bordering states like New Mexico, Oklahoma or Louisiana to place their wagers…or to a gambling Mecca like Las Vegas or Atlantic City.
But for the gaming industry, Texas is seen as a huge, untapped market for casinos and gambling. Perhaps even the biggest single target for “Big Casino”.
According to reporting in the Austin American Statesman, the Las Vegas Sands company is aggressively preparing to make Texas a casino state in the near future. The company’s Vice President, Andy Abboud, says there are 4 Texas cities, including Austin, that could be prime casino-based destinations. If Texas ever makes it legal, Abboud says there could be smaller, regional casinos in smaller cities throughout Texas.
It’s not just the one company, either. Abboud says LV Sands is looking to form a coalition with other gaming/gambling interests along with sports teams, Texas citizens and politicians. In the last year alone, the number of Las Vegas Sands lobbyists working in Texas has increased from 10 to over 50.
So, what are the pros and cons? Abboud says the bigger casinos would directly employ 10,000 people, most of them in Texas. So, jobs, increased tax base and, Abboud says, “we’re never going to ask for one tax incentive”.
The biggest drawback may be that Texas republicans don’t want casinos in the state. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said last week, he’s not in favor of it and that the Texas GOP doesn’t want “the expansion of legalized gambling”.
The casino interests may be hoping that, with some work on legislators, they may eventually get legalized gambling in front of Texas voters. If the issue is put to a vote, Abboud says, he’s convinced it will pass because polling data shows a majority of Texans would be in favor.
Will there be casino-style gambling in the near future for Texas? I wouldn’t bet on it.
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