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Texas Casino Legislation Won't Pass In 2021

Proposals In Both Chambers That Would Legalize "Resort Destination" Casinos And Sports Betting Were Never Voted On

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Legalizing casino gambling and sports betting in Texas is unlikely to happen in 2021 after the state legislature failed to vote on bills regarding either activity when it was scheduled to.

The deadline for House Joint Resolution 133 passed last week without a vote, according to a report from the Texas Tribune. There was similar legislation in the Senate, Senate Joint Resolution 49, that didn’t even have a committee hearing, let alone a vote.

Both HJR 133 and its companion proposal in the Senate would have allowed citizens in the state to vote on whether to repeal the gambling ban in the state constitution and build “destination resorts” that have casinos in four major cities. It would have also allowed the three federally recognized tribes in the state to run gambling operations as well.

The topic has bipartisan support in the legislature with a Republican sponsoring the House bill and a Democrat throwing her support behind the Senate’s version.

The sports betting legislation that was making its way through the state legislature had the same fate as the casino bills. With only a handful of scheduled meetings left before the session’s end on May 31, it’s very unlikely anything will get done until 2022.

It also had lobbying efforts from one of the largest gambling companies in the world. Las Vegas Sands Corp built a team of lobbyists last November to help push the legislation through. It also ran a media campaign throughout the state to drum up citizen support on the issue.

The company, which recently sold its two Las Vegas Strip casinos, was arguably the driving force behind the move towards gambling expansion. Sands was hoping to build a casino resort in the state and according to multiple reports, it was eying the Dallas market.

Unfortunately for Texas-based gamblers, the anti-gambling strain of the political spectrum was too strong. And since the legislation was centered around a constitutional amendment, it required a two-thirds majority to pass.

In February, as the public support for expanded gambling was picking up steam, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that sports betting legislation “wouldn’t see the light of day” this legislative session. He was right.

Fortunately for those that want to see this legislation passed, it appears that Sands will continue their lobbying efforts in subsequent sessions.

“We have said from the beginning that we’re committed to Texas for the long haul,” said Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands’ senior vice president of government relations in a statement. “We have made great strides this session and have enjoyed meeting with lawmakers about our vision for destination resorts and answering all the questions they have.”