Residents in Texas support gambling expansion in the state, a recent poll conducted by The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas confirmed. Despite this, lawmakers are far from subjecting the issue to a referendum vote.
Texans Like to Gamble
The poll revealed 57% will support a decision to allow casino gambling in the Lone Star State, another 13% showed indifference to the matter, while 29% of respondents would vote against such a gambling expansion.
Surprisingly, the poll showed 52% of a group that has so far been strong opposition to any gambling expansion, the white evangelicals, to be in favor of introducing casinos in the state.
With regards to sports betting, though, the group remains unfazed, opposing it by a 44% to 26% margin. Overall, Texas residents support sports wagering by a 43% to 26% margin, while 31% of respondents said the issue is of no interest to them.
According to estimations, Texas residents spend $2.5 billion per year while gambling in other states, a revenue gambling expansion proponents want to keep in-house and allocate taxes from it to education and other public services.
Legislative Efforts Ongoing
But despite public support and tax revenue potential for the state, gambling expansion in Texas seems to be far from becoming a reality as legislators reject gambling bill after gambling bill. Major opposition to gambling expansion efforts come from religious groups, some companies running casinos in Las Vegas, as well as Native American tribes having casinos on their land.
Yet, it was looking quite promising by the end of last year, when casino mogul and billionaire Sheldon Adelson recruited some powerful lobbyists ahead of the upcoming legislative session in January. And it was needed because any gambling expansion in Texas is banned by the state constitution.
Sports betting legalization, for example, would need two different bills to be passed: one supported by two-thirds in both House and the Senate to amend the constitution, and another, to set in place licensing and regulation rules for the lucrative activity. State constitution amendment bill will also need to be approved by a majority of votes on a statewide referendum.
Yet, gambling is not an issue that would spark passion in an average state resident to push lawmakers to make the effort and subject the issue to a referendum vote where it would most likely be supported. Instead, gambling rubs the wrong way its opposition.
After the death of Adelson and the announcement from Las Vegas Sands it would be focusing on its operations outside the US, the situation with any gambling expansion in the state is unclear.
In February, the state’s biggest sports teams, Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, and Dallas Mavericks, joined efforts to legalize sports betting. Their efforts materialized in the proposed by Rep. Dan Huberty HB 2070 in which all 13 professional sports franchises in Texas could become sports betting partners, while the leagues could enter into commercial agreements with them and take their fair share of the revenue.