Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement to the Houston Chronicle that he would be open to allowing casinos in Texas, if certain safeguards are in place.
The statement is a departure for Abbott, who has previously opposed any expansion of gambling in the state.
It was made in a statement from his office, not long after Abbott’s reelection campaign received a $1 million check from Dr. Miriam Adelson, the billionaire widow of casino mogul and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) Chairman Sheldon Adelson who remains the majority shareholder of LVS.
Abbott’s Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial campaign, Beto O’Rourke, has supported expanded gambling.
“We don’t want slot machines at every corner store, we don’t want Texans to be losing money that they need for everyday expenses, and we don’t want any type of crime that could be associated with gaming,” said the statement from Abbott’s press secretary Ranae Eze. “But, if there is a way to create a very professional entertainment option for Texans, Governor Abbott would take a look at it.”
The platform of the Republican Party of Texas, issued at its convention in June, is opposed to casinos or any other expansion of gambling in the state. Meanwhile, Texas gamblers continue to spend their money at Oklahoma’s casinos, including the massive WinStar World Casino and Resort, just over the border near Dallas, as well those in Louisiana, with Lake Charles and Shreveport/Bossier City servicing the southern Texas market.
The state legislature has declined to move any bills involving a legalization of casinos, which are banned under the state constitution. Adelson and Las Vegas Sands aim to place a statewide referendum on the ballot in a future election to approve a constitutional amendment that would permit a limited number of commercial destination resorts with casinos.
“From listening to Texans across the state, it’s one, a very popular proposal, and two, it would also help us address some of the challenges we have in reducing inflation and property taxes in the state,” Abbott’s Democratic rival O’Rourke told the Chronicle. “So I think that warrants a very close look, and it’s something I’m inclined to support.”
“Texas is considered the biggest plum still waiting to be out there in the history of hospitality and gaming,” said Andy Abboud, senior vice president of government relations for LVS., in an interview with the Chronicle. LVS is on record as contributing to the campaigns of many Texas politicians.