According to Texas Tribune, in a bid to seek the legalization of gambling at casinos in Texas, Las Vegas Sands has put together a group of powerful lobbyists to help achieve their goal. The lobbying for a casino in Texas is expected to start in January next 2021.
Meanwhile, in the past, Joe Deshotel, a state representative, made efforts to legalize gaming at casinos in Texas, but it fell on hard rock. In 2015, Gov. Gregg Abbott wholeheartedly supported the restriction placed on gambling at casinos.
Will the lobbyist succeed this time?
Some industry watchers believe the lobbyist will succeed considering the impact of COVID-19 on the Texas economy.
Gambling at Casinos in Texas
Texas prohibits gambling at casinos. Other US states that also prohibit top online gambling at casinos are Utah, Alabama, Hawaii, Alaska, etc. On the other hand, Texas laws permit some forms of gambling, but gambling at casinos is illegal. Furthermore, the gambling activities allowed in Texas are:
Apart from the above-listed forms of gambling, no other type of betting activity is permitted in Texas.
Regarding online gaming, since Texas doesn’t permit brick and mortar gambling, most players visit online casino sites legalized in other jurisdictions. More so, Texas is a highly conservative state. Taxes gotten from gambling is perceived as “sin taxes”.
Will the lobbyist change that perception? Let’s wait and see!
Las Vegas Sands Hires 10 Lobbyist to Legalize Gambling at Casinos in Texas
The brain behind the push for the legalization of gambling at casinos in Texas is GOP mega-donor, Sheldon Adelson. During the November election in the state, Adelson and his wife were among the top donors to the Republicans. Similarly, Adelson currently owns about a 53 percent stake in Las Vegas Sands Casino.
One of the Las Vegas Sands lobbyists, Andy Abboud, said the company has plans to expand their business and set up a casino in Texas. Abboud said this during a meeting with the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association. During his speech on Tuesday, Abboud made suggested the following:
That the state should set up a strict regulatory authority
Bidders should invest at least 1 to 3 billion to wade off incompetent companies.
Map out an area for setting up casino resorts
Design a plan that will allow resorts to blend into existing infrastructure
To show Las Vegas Sands seriousness, the company hired lobbyists who are linked to Capitol. Some of the lobbyists are:
Gavin Massingill – He is presently the chief of staff to the current House Speaker Dennis Bonnen
Drew DeBerry – Drew is was a former senior staffer to Abbott
Karen Rove – She is the wife of Karl Rove, a Republican strategist
Mike Toomey – He was a chief of staff to two former governors in the state
Budget Deficit: Need to Seek other Revenue Sources
It is an open secret that Texas faced a budget shortfall of $4.6 billion. This is a huge shortfall for the state. Besides, since the history of Texas, this is the highest budget deficit the state has experienced. No doubt, COVID-19 is responsible for this revenue shortfall.
Just like other states, Texas is seeking other ways to increase its revenue and avoid any shortfall in its budget in the future. Considering that other sectors are struggling to stay afloat, will the state legalize gambling at casinos?
They are speculations that the state may also look at legalizing marijuana. If the state legalized gambling at casinos, it would definitely improve the revenue of the state. Abboud on Tuesday further added casinos are job creators and will hire a lot of employees.
Impact of COVID-19 on Texas Economy
It appears that the pandemic is to blame for every negative thing that happened in 2020. The setback suffered by the Texas economy was as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19. At some point, it was as if some part of the economy would no longer exist.
As earlier stated, one of the major impacts of COVID-19 on the Texas economy is the shortfall in their budget. This will largely affect the needed development and growth of the state’s economy.
Will the Las Vegas Sands Lobbyist Have Their Way?
It is difficult to say, considering that Texas is a very conservative state. For instance, Jonathan Covey said that the whole idea of legalizing gambling at casinos in the state would not scale through because it is not suitable for the Texas economy. Covey is the policy director for Texas Values.
However, Abboud believes that the lawmakers should leave the decision for the voters to decide. Finally, even if the voters are allowed to determine the fate of gambling at casinos in the state, will it scale through?