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Fiona Simmons February 8, 2023 3 min read
Fertitta Skeptical about Texas Chances to Legalize Casino Expansion, Sports Gambling
A report by Galveston County’s Daily News has taken another look at the polarizing debate about gambling expansion in Texas
One of the biggest skeptics to share their opinions on the matter is Tilman Fertitta, owner of the NBA franchise the Houston Rockets and the Golden Nugget Casino brands. According to him the current optimism and chatter about expanding the state’s gambling with new casinos is nothing to be hopeful about.
Allies of Sports and Casino Gambling in Texas Not Too Many
In fact, the chances of this happening are net tonight, with Fertitta comparing it to drawing a royal flush in poker. This comes despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott arguing that he may be willing to explore the idea of more casinos joining the state, and even look into other options such as iGaming and sports betting.
Fertitta remains fixated on sobering pragmatism, arguing that since the Republicans are in control of all legislative levers, meaning the Senate and the House, the chances of an expansion bill do not look good indeed.
His comments also come on the tale of multiple bills being launched in the Lone Star, one by State Rep. Charlie Geren who pitched House Joint Resolution 97, a measure designed to ask the state voters whether they would be happy to see casino gambling expanded in Texas, and sports gambling added to the mix.
The bill is not the only proposal, though, as there is another one pithed by Sen. Carol Alvarado and known as Senate Joint Resolution 17. In other words, both the Senate and House are seeing some action insofar as expanded gambling in Texas is concerned. SJR 17 is also slightly more tailored to local preferences, which remain traditional insofar as gambling is concerned.
Proposals on All Levels of Legislature, But Not Enough Momentum
The resolution seeks to only introduce four casinos – as opposed to the mass legalization and building by the other proposal. Either way, Fertitta’s skepticism could mean that he has a good idea of what the current legislative makeup would think about expanding gambling any further during the current legislative session.
Even New York, one of the biggest states to refuse to legalize online casinos and sports betting, took years to get the ball rolling. Meanwhile, some forms of gambling remain available in Texas, including racetracks and lottery options. Any big changes though would require changes to the constitution through a referendum – if the opportunity is missed, it could be at least several years before Texas could launch sports gambling – with 2026 or 2027 as one of the early opportunities.