At a recent Dallas press conference, Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke showed support for statewide legalization of casino gambling and sports betting in Texas, should he be elected as the state’s governor this November.
The Lone Star State has long been a staunch opponent of the gaming industry, as their state constitution features provisions that prohibit gaming expansion. In order for O’Rourke and others to amend these provisions and get a measure to the ballot, they would need a two-thirds vote of support in the state legislature.
Currently, the Republican-majority legislature has yet to give the issue much attention at all. In fact, the Texas Republican Party has said publicly that they will “oppose and call for a veto of any budget that relies on expansion of legalized gambling as a method of finance.”
When asked about the prospect of bringing large-scale gaming to Texas, O’Rourke said that he would be “inclined” to support it because of the potential economic benefits–he estimated that the state is missing out on “billions of dollars in revenues,” as many Texans go so far as to cross state lines in order to gamble legally.
O’Rourke said that support for legalized gaming in Texas has reached him from “across the state,” and that the influx of revenue would help combat inflation as well as property taxes, which have historically been a big contributor to the state’s economy.
Gaming lobbyists from around the country have long tried to entice Texas lawmakers to expand its gaming industry. Sheldon Adelson, the late Las Vegas casino mogul, donated some $5 million to various GOP representatives before his death in 2021.
The only casinos currently operating in the state are tribal-owned, and therefore not under the purview of state authorities. Multiple states nearby feature legal gambling, including Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico.