The House State Affairs Committee voted 9-3 in favor of all three bills without discussion. All three opposing votes were cast by Republicans—Reps. Will Metcalf (Conroe), Shelby Slawson (Stephenville) and John Smithee (Amarillo).
The proposals are already receiving more support than similar pieces of legislation did last year when they failed to make it past committee hearings. The early support is symbolic of the building momentum inside of Texas that stems from increased support from lawmakers and public pressure.
American casino and resorts company Las Vegas Sands has been an integral part in pushing gambling legislation in Texas and is at the center of the recent success.
“The efforts to bring destination resorts to Texas made significant progress with [Monday’s] vote,” said Matt Hirsch, a spokesperson for Las Vegas Sands. “Texans have made it clear that they want destination resorts in Texas, and we are now one step closer to ultimately allowing them to decide on this issue.”
Even if the bills are approved by a two-thirds vote in both chambers—which is daunting enough in and of itself, especially in the Senate—they would then need to be approved by voters on the November ballot.
Proponents are arguing that legalizing casinos and sports betting would create a massive economic influx because of how alluring and popular the gambling market has proven to be nationwide. Texas is also the second-most-populous state and has several landmark cities that would be attractive destinations for local and visiting gamblers.
There are also prevalent professional sports teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Astros, and Dallas Mavericks inside state borders, which would give bettors plenty of opportunities to support their favorite hometown heroes at the sportsbooks.