Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson has hired eight influential Austin lobbyists, hinting at the potential legalization of casino gaming in Texas.
Window of Opportunity for Gaming Bill
Casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson recently hired eight high-profile lobbyists from Austin, Texas, therefore generating speculation around the possible legalization of casino gaming in the Lone Star State. Gaming expansion supporters attempted to pass gaming bills seven times in the past years, to no avail.
However, the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Texan economy, as well as Mr. Adelson‘s new interest in the state’s market and politics, opens a window of opportunity towards legalizing gambling.
Sheldon Adelson, the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, just expanded his lobby budget to sway lawmakers into passing casino gambling during the next legislative session starting in January 2021. This year, the billionaire and his wife, Miriam Adelson, donated $4.5 million to Republican campaigns for the state House seats.
According to Mark Lipparelli of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, it is natural that “all of the significant players in the industry would put Texas at the top of their lists.”
Legalizing Casino Gambling Would Boost Texas’ Revenue
The 87th Legislature is the right opportunity to reconsider casino gambling in Texas, Democratic State Representative Joe Deshotel declared. Revenues generated by the industry could help to lower the cost of windstorm insurance in coastal areas of the state, and provide damage assistance during floods to local businesses and citizens, he added. The legislation would also create employment and boost tourism.
“Keep Texas money in Texas.”Joe Deshotel, State Representative
Every neighboring state of Texas has a minimum of one gaming property near the state border, and the money they generate from Texan players could be redirected towards the state, Mr. Deshotel said.
Proposals for marijuana legalization and casino gambling have not picked up steam until now, but as the pandemic leaves Texas lawmakers staring at a $4.6 billion deficit while budgeting for the next biennium, gaming expansion supporters are optimistic for the January session.
Las Vegas Sands in Talks to Sell its Last US Casinos
As an anti-marijuana advocate, Mr. Adelson’s recent interest in Texas could also be an attempt to shut down the efforts for cannabis legalization, rather than expanding casino gambling.
However, those in favor of the casino bill have shared that the opportunity to open mega-resorts in Texas might be too good to pass for the Las Vegas Sands owner.
At the end of October, Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced it had plans to sell its Las Vegas casinos, the Palazzo and the Venetian, as well as its Sands Expo Convention Center for more than $6 billion.
The group hired an advisor to bring interest to the gaming properties, but nothing has been finalized yet. If the sale goes through, Las Vegas Sands will not be tied to the US gaming market and will focus on its businesses in Macau and Singapore.