The future of Texas gambling is likely up to Lt. Gov. Patrick as the legislature begins

Published on: January 2, 2023, 02:44 am.

Last updated: January 2, 2023, 02:44.

Powerful Texas Gov. Dan Patrick, R, continues to have a strong influence on whether expanded gambling could advance in the Republican-dominated state Senate.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
Lt. Gov. Texas Dan Patrick, pictured above. The Republican leader weighed in on whether any expanded gambling proposals would advance in the upcoming legislative session. (Image: CNN)

Patrick is said to rule the senate chamber with an iron fist. The next session starts on January 10.

“Creating destination casinos is up to … Dan Patrick, whose powerful control of the Texas Senate gives him the power to determine the fate of any casino gambling legislation that will pass only if he explicitly or at least implicitly supports it . ,” said Rice University professor Mark P. Jones

If Patrick is willing to accept a casino gambling proposal, it is highly likely that any legislation passed will have been reviewed and amended to reflect any requirements or concerns the lieutenant governor may have.”

No Movement

But Patrick recently said there is no “movement” on gambling for now. He adds that none of his Senate Republican colleagues have introduced a bill on the issue.

“No one has told me they’re interested in doing anything,” Patrick said recently. KXANa television station in Houston.

There’s a lot of talk out there, but I don’t see any movement on it,” Patrick added.

Abbott changes tune

Last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, signaled a shift in his position when he said he would at least consider the concept.

“We don’t want slots at every corner store, we don’t want Texans to lose the money they need for everyday expenses, and we don’t want any crime that might be associated with gambling,” Renae Eze, a porter in Abbott’s words, was recently quoted by Houston Chronicle.

But if there is a way to create a very professional entertainment option for Texans, Governor Abbott would take a look at it,” Eze added.

The governor’s comments prompted Jones to say that it appeared Abbott was “upending his previous anti-gambling stance, particularly on the proposal by Las Vegas Sands and others to establish a limited number of luxury casinos in Texas.”

Busy lobbyists

Meanwhile, lobbyists are pushing to expand gambling in the state. More than 300 lobbyists are working on the issue chronicle said.

State records show Las Vegas Sands alone now has 74 lobbyists in Texas.

“The lobbying efforts of pro-destination casino forces are paying off, and … Abbott is increasingly convinced that the economic and fiscal benefits of luxury casinos outweigh their negative costs,” Jones said.

Also, former Gov. Rick Perry, also a Republican, is a paid spokesman for the Sports Betting Alliance — a group of Texas professional sports franchises and gambling companies.

Alvarado legislation

In November, state Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, introduced a bill to authorize four destination casinos and allow sports betting in the state. Under her legislation, there would also be expanded gambling limited to tribal racinos and casinos.

Jones points out that Alvarado’s bill offers “something for all of the state’s gaming constituencies, from the destination casino lobby interested in access to the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio markets, to the mid of dozen existing horse and dog tracks. and the three Native American tribes that currently operate Class II casinos.”

If Patrick takes a supportive or neutral position, then Alvarado’s bill SJR 17 could very well receive two-thirds support in the Texas House and Senate this spring, and then be on the floor in November 2023, when it would be almost without a doubt getting the vote of the majority of Texas voters, according to recent public opinion polls,” Jones predicted.

Slow pace

But any change would likely come slowly.

“At best, we’re likely to see a modest expansion of gambling in the next legislative session,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “The state has always tiptoed toward expanding gaming, so it’s probably going to take this very slowly, if at all.”

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