Las Vegas Sands Reboots Push for Texas Casinos with Online Petition

Erik Gibbs

Capital Building Austin Texas Government Building Blue Skies

Las Vegas Sands (LVS), the casino and resort giant, is again lobbying for legalized casino gambling in Texas. After failing to gain traction in the 2023 legislative session, the company’s Texas arm, the Texas Destination Resort Alliance (TDRA), has launched an online petition urging Texans to show their support for casino legalization.

This renewed push comes after a series of setbacks for LVS in the Lone Star State. In 2021, the company proposed building large-scale casino resorts in four major Texas cities. The proposal, which would have required voter approval, never gained significant traction in the legislature.

Further complicating matters is Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s consistent opposition to casino gambling expansion. Governor Abbott has repeatedly voiced concerns about the social and economic costs associated with casinos.

Undeterred, LVS, which also wants a casino in New York, seems determined to change the tide of public opinion. The TDRA petition emphasizes the potential economic benefits of legalized casinos, such as job creation, increased tourism revenue, and tax dollars for the state. The petition also highlights the company’s commitment to responsible gaming practices.

This renewed effort comes with an interesting wrinkle. Last year, LVS acquired a controlling stake in the Dallas Mavericks, one of the state’s most popular sports franchises. That deal was said to be worth approximately $3.5 billion.

This move was seen as a strategic attempt to cultivate local support for casino legalization. However, some industry analysts don’t believe it will carry enough weight to make a difference.

A History of Stalled Efforts

LVS has a long history of lobbying for casino expansion in Texas. In 2007, the company proposed a similar large-scale resort plan, which ultimately went nowhere. Since then, the company has consistently pushed for changes to Texas’ strict gambling laws, with limited success.

In 2021, the company initiated a substantial lobbying campaign to legalize casino gambling in Texas, emphasizing the creation of “destination resorts” in major cities. Despite a significant investment, including an army of lobbyists and a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign, the legislation failed to progress in the state legislature.

The following year, the company’s efforts gained momentum with the establishment of the Texas Sands Political Action Committee (PAC), which allocated $2 million in support of its lobbying efforts. However, the push faced challenges, including opposition from key political figures and a legislative environment preoccupied with other pressing issues.

The 2023 legislative session offered a glimmer of hope for casino proponents. House Joint Resolution 155 (HJR 155) aimed to legalize and regulate sports betting at existing racetracks and casinos. However, the bill ultimately failed to pass the House of Representatives.

Another bill, House Joint Resolution 97 (HJR 97), proposed a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the legislature to legalize casinos entirely. HJR 97 never even made it out of committee for a vote.

Public Opinion Remains Divided

Public opinion on casino gambling in Texas appears divided. Polling data suggests a slight majority of Texans support legalization, but the issue remains politically contentious. Social conservatives and some religious groups continue to voice strong opposition.

The success of the TDRA petition campaign remains to be seen. However, it signifies the continued commitment by LVS to bringing casinos to Texas. The company is likely banking on a long-term strategy, aiming to shift public opinion and potentially wait for a more receptive political climate.