Update: This Article was written before the untimely passing of Sheldon Adelson on Monday Jan 11 2021 at the age of 87.
Long thought to be an absolute longshot to introduce casinos, let alone permit online sports betting, the Lone Star State of Texas might have just sniffed the first breezes of change. The casino empire helmed by multi-billionaire owner and GOP megadonor, Sheldon Adelson, is beginning to get serious about bringing casino gaming and sports betting to Texas.
Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, one of the world’s largest gaming companies, has set its sights on legalizing casinos in the state with a stable of high-powered lobbyists heading to the state for the upcoming Texas legislative session, and has made a public acknowledgment of its ambitions.
“We view Texas as a worldwide destination and one of the top potential markets in the entire world,” Abboud announced during the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association’s latest conference.
“Texas is considered the biggest plum still waiting to be out there in the history of hospitality and gaming” Abboud added. His team have registered 10 lobbyists to head to the Texas State Legislature to represent Adelson in his pursuit of legalizing casinos in the state.
Adelson’s Political Ties Run Deep in Texas
Adelson, with a net worth of $37.4 billion, is arguably one of the most powerful men in the gambling industry today. As a mega-donor to the Republican Party, Adelson’s ties with the party could go a long way to securing casino and sports betting legalization as Texas has been controlled by Republicans for generations.
Joining the mix in the Texas casino gambling debate is a major development for both Adelson and the state. Any authorization of sports betting casino gambling would require voters to approve a constitutional amendment by referendum. Adelson’s deep pockets will assist in order to get an amendment passed in a state that has plenty of people generally opposed to gaming and one that could generate into a fierce battleground for competing gaming interests, both tribal and commercial.
What Casino & Sports Betting Could Bring to Texas
Texans already wager billions annually outside the state, in neighboring states like Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma. Legalizing casino and sports betting could keep much of that money in the state and raise much needed tax revenue for Lone Star State services, education, law-and-order and infrastructure programs.
Back in 2013, a study based on Texas allowing 6 commercial casinos, 13 racinos and 3 tribal casinos projected the Lone Star State could generate as much as $11.8 billion in new economic activity across Texas. As many as 74 000 new jobs could be created, along with an estimated $3.4 billion in salaries, wages, and benefits.
The study projected casino to generate as much as $4.6 billion annually from the state’s players. Putting that number into context: Prior to the impact of the global pandemic, the nation’s largest casino market, Nevada, saw about $12 billion generated in betting handle. Texas casinos could potentially put a serious dent in Vegas’ earning potential, and all of those projected numbers above don’t even include the extra millions that sports betting could offer the Lone Star State.
It has been estimated in another study from the American Gaming Association in 2017 that legalized sports betting has the potential to generate as much as $19 billion in sports betting handle for Texas. Those kind of handle numbers could bring in more than $125 million annually in taxes.
What model Texas sports betting may take is still up for debate, but look for Adelson’s land-based casinos to be included as part of the mix.