House Speaker Believes Voters Would Approve the Expansion of Gaming in the Lone Star State
Texas House of Representatives Speaker Dade Phelan said he’s open to resort-style casinos in Texas.
AUSTIN, Texas (January 16, 2023)— Texas House of Representatives Speaker, Southeast Texas native Dade Phelan said he’s open to resort-style casinos in Texas. He said he thinks voters would approve the expansion of gaming in the Lone Star State.
Casinos and sports betting companies are making another big push this year. They’ve done it before but had no luck. This time, lawmakers and lobbyists are hoping public opinion has changed enough to move the needle.
Texas Senator Carol Alvarado’s resolution that, if approved, would allow the electorate to vote on the expansion of legalized gambling in the Lone Star State is now gaining traction in the Senate with a companion House bill to follow soon.
Democratic Senator Carol Alvarado, of Houston, filed a bill (SJR17) proposing a constitutional amendment to legalize casino and sports betting. It would create the Texas Gaming Commission and allow four casino resorts in major Texas cities.
Southeast Texas Political Analyst Tom Taschinger says it might pass in the Texas House, but the real hurdle is in the Senate.
“The senate is very conservative under Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. It’s really hard to imagine, either Patrick letting a bill be voted on in the Senate, or seeing it pass,” Taschinger said.
But the court of public opinion helps the cause as gambling and sports betting are more popular than ever before.
As other states legalize, Texas may follow.
“Times are changing in Texas until the lottery came along 20 years or so ago. Texas had no gambling whatsoever and it was considered a bad bad thing,” Taschinger said.
Revenue from casinos would go back into education and public safety, but opponents worry about crime and addiction increasing.
Any gambling expansion would require approval by two-thirds of lawmakers in both the House and Senate.
If lawmakers approve new legislation, Texas voters would get the final say during a constitutional amendment election.
Bill: SJR 17 Proposes a constitutional amendment to foster economic development and job growth and to provide tax relief and funding for education and public safety by creating the Texas Gaming Commission, authorizing and regulating casino gaming at a limited number of destination resorts and facilities licensed by the commission, authorizing sports wagering, requiring occupational licenses to conduct casino gaming, and requiring the imposition of a tax.