Texas may have a poker game bearing its name, but this doesn’t mean the state is gambling-friendly. Texas Hold’em poker is said to have originated in Robstown, TX, more than 100 years ago and, for a while, gambling could be found everywhere. That is no longer the case, though, and it doesn’t look like anything is going to change in the near future. Efforts by a handful of lawmakers to bring legalized sports gambling and casinos to the Lone Star State are close to failing, as the current legislative session is going to expire in less than a month.
Time’s Running Out For Texas Gambling Push
Attempts to bring legalized gambling to Texas go back several years. The defeat of PASPA in 2018 revitalized interest in a sports gambling market in the state, as well as in others, but no progress has been made since. The COVID-19 pandemic gave new life to bills on casinos and sports gambling, supported by the assertion that legalized gambling would help improve the state’s revenue situation. Even the state’s pro sports teams would have been allowed to get in on the action.
As much as public support has been behind legalized gambling, it’s simply not in the cards this year. There is less than a month to go before the legislative session ends and none of the efforts to legalize any type of gambling in Texas have gotten beyond their first step. According to GOP Representative John Kuempel, they won’t, either, as he told The Dallas Morning News last week that there’s “not time for [gambling][ to pass this session.” This is despite the fact that bills have been live for at least two months and other jurisdictions across the US have been able to fast-track their legalized gambling efforts.
Texas Lawmakers Don’t Like Complications
Because gambling expansion in Texas requires a constitutional amendment, there’s more work to be done in the state than in others to legalize any new gambling activity. Two-thirds of the legislative body would have to be in agreement on any bill for it to be approved and the issue would then have to be put to a public vote. It was likely viewed as an insurmountable challenge to be tackled in a short window, even though extended legislative sessions and other mechanisms exist to give lawmakers more time.
What was perhaps a bigger challenge, even if some lawmakers won’t admit it, was the fact that Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick vehemently objects to gambling expansion in the state and has made it clear that there is no chance of any bill making it to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk. Despite this seemingly impossible obstacle, the lawmakers sponsoring and supporting the gambling expansion bills remain optimistic that progress can be made and that Texas will finally gain access to the millions of dollars in gaming revenue it is currently missing. Las Vegas Sands will continue supporting the idea, as well, likely to inject millions of dollars more into its Lone Star State gambling campaign.