Dallas Mavericks owner Miriam Adelson is lobbying for the legalization of gambling in Texas (Public domain photo).

Arguably, the biggest prize left up for grabs on the legal and regulated gambling landscape in the USA is the state where they suggest that everything is bigger.

That would be Texas and when it comes to sports betting or casino gambling in the Lone Star State, those with a desire to do so are feeling all alone and left out.

There are some major players fighting the good fight on both sides of this issue and that’s been the case for years now. The progress being made on the pro-grambling side of this ledger is being so in baby steps. 

What’s it going to take for the best betting sites in Texas to be up and operational in the state? That’s not an easy question to answer. Those opposed to legal and regulated sports betting and casino gambling in the Lone Star State are not only entrenched in their anti-gambling stance, the leaders of this movement are situated in positions of power within the Texas state government. 

Even while some of the biggest names with the Texas pro sports teams and two of the most powerful people in the casino industry push for the legalization of gambling in the state, movement on the issue remains set at a snail’s pace, when there’s any movement at all.

Texas A Gambling Outlier

Since the US Supreme Court overturned the Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) in May of 2018, opening the door to country-wide legalization of gambling, there’s been plenty of movement on both the sports betting and casino front.

Currently, 38 states offer at least some form of legal and regulated sports betting. Of that 38, there are 30 states delivering online and mobile sports wagering. 

On the casino front, the landscape is even more crowded. There are 44 states offering some level of casino gambling, whether it be commercial or tribal land-based casinos, or online casino play.

Just three states are batting zero when it comes to both of these fronts. Texas is joined by Utah and Hawaii as the only states that don’t offer any type of casino gambling or sports betting.

Plenty Of Trying But No Success Stories

One thing you have to give Texas lawmakers. They aren’t easily dismayed by failure. 

In terms of attempts to legalize sports betting and casino gambling, there have been numerous attempts to make it happen. In fact, the first try to legalize casino gambling came back in 2015, three years prior to the US Supreme Court ruling on PASPA.

In total, Texas legislators have put eight different bills seeking to legalize one or both of casino gambling or sports betting in front of the state house or senate. All eight have failed to make it from bill into law.

The most recent bid came in 2023. House Bill 1942 was proposing the legalization of sports betting across the state. Although it passed easily through the Texas state house by a vote of 100-43, the bill stalled in the state senate. It never came to a vote on the senate floor prior to the end of the legislative session.

That means the proponents of legalized gambling in the state government are back to Square One in their battle.

Patrick A Formidable Foe

Texas Lieutenant-Governor Dan Patrick is leading the anti-gambling forces in the state (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license).

At the forefront of the anti-gambling lobby is the second-most powerful person in the Texas state government. That would be Lieutenant-Governor Dan Patrick and he’s dead set against any advancement of gambling in the state. 

Filling his post as President of the state senate, Patrick was the driving force in making certain that the latest gambling legalization bill met its demise on the senate floor.

Patrick, a Republican, believes that the people of Texas aren’t interested in the legalization of any form of gambling in the state. 

That stance seems to fly in the face of what research in the state is indicating. 

A 2021 poll regarding the legalization of gambling in the state displayed that 43% of Texas residents were in favor of legalization. Only 26% stated their opposition to legal sports betting and casino gambling. An additional 31% were either undecided or ambivalent regarding the issue.

Prominent Casino Owners Situated In Texas

Two of the most prominent figures in the US casino industry also happen to be the owners of NBA franchises situated in Texas. 

Tilman Fertitta is the owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. The Texas billionaire is also the owner of the massive Golden Nugget casino franchise. 

A second major casino player entered the Texas landscape more recently when billionaire Miriam Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands casino empire, purchased controlling interest in the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks from fellow billionaire Mark Cuban for $3.5 billion.

Mavericks governor Patrick Dumont, Adelson’s son-in-law, spoke to reporters at the NBA Finals about the ongoing battle to gain legalization for casino gambling in Texas.

“We’re patient,” Dumont told Fox 4 News. “We think long term. We’re not people who think in the short term.”

Dumont insists the Sands group remains solely focused on advancing toward legalization, feeling it will be a massive boon to the state’s tourism industry.

“If you look at what we do, we’re ground-up developers in scale, and we develop tourism assets for both business and leisure tourism,” Dumont said. “We feel like this is an opportunity that’s very good, not only for us, but for the tourism industry as a whole. Now, as part of that, we need casino gaming because of the scale of our investments.”

A frequent donor to Republican politicians, Adelson has also dished out more than $2 million to the political action committee Texas Sands, which is backing the pro-gambling movement in Texas. They are lobbying Texas politicians, especially Republicans, in a bid to sway their opinion on the legalization of gambling.

“It’s something we’re thinking about, we’re working on,” Dumont said. “We’re spending a lot of time explaining to people what it means in terms of investment, the scale of those investments. Over time, hopefully we’ll be successful.”