Currently, the state of Texas has very strict laws against all forms of gambling. The penal code states that anyone betting money on a game such as cards, slots, or sports is committing a criminal offense. This includes both land-based and online casinos and also includes sports betting too. Despite the recent relaxation of federal laws in regard to sports betting and the fact that many states across the country have now launched regulated gambling, Texas remains an outlier.
For now, at least, Texas still remains a state where all forms of gambling are illegal. However, there have been recent changes to change this. In this article, our casino gaming expert Victoria Oliviera (find out more about her here), explains the recent efforts for Texas to become more progressive towards casino gambling and what’s next for the state.
Is Gambling Coming to Texas?
Recently, two Texas lawmakers, backed by the Las Vegas Sands gaming giant, filed legislation that would legalize casino gambling in the state. Rep. John Kuempel introduced the bill in the House, while Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, introduced it in the Senate. Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, was later added to the House proposal as a co-author.
Las Vegas Sands has made Texas its main target in terms of development and has gone all out to make its goals known at the Capitol and throughout the state. The company spent millions of dollars on contracts to develop one of Austin’s largest lobbying stables and recently launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to increase public pressure.
The bill would effectively legalize casino gaming in the state and proposed four destination resorts to be built. These resorts would be granted special casino licenses and would be located in the state’s four largest urban areas of Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin.
Simultaneously, the bill would also create a Texas Gaming Commission with the aim of regulating gaming in Texas. All states that have legalized gambling have needed a regulatory commission to ensure that casinos are fair and properly taxed.
Differences between online casino gaming in Texas and European nations
Texas is very different from some European countries like Portugal, where the online gambling laws are much more relaxed. Online gambling remains a grey area in Texas while countries like Portugal have relaxed rules. You will thus find sites such as casino de Portugal. that educate Portuguese players on different online casinos and games. However, such resources are scarce when it comes to Texas.
And while potential startups in gambling in Portugal seek opportunities to penetrate the market during the pandemic, Texan businesses are also trying to see through the ‘looking glass’ on the upside of getting in on the gambling action.
Who stands to benefit?
The state’s 3 federally recognized Native American tribes would also benefit from complete casino legalization on their reservations in El Paso, Eagle Pass, and Livingston. At the moment, they’re limited in which games they can provide but would become a new casino in Texas.
The bill would also create new income for the state by levying a 10% tax on table games and a 25% tax on slot machines. Despite the fact that state lawmakers are facing a roughly $1 billion budget deficit, Las Vegas Sands has downplayed casinos as a short-term solution to the problem, concentrating instead on their long-term influence on economic development, jobs, and tourism.
One of the difficult parts of the bill is that it would require an amendment to the Texas Constitution. Currently, the constitution prohibits most forms of gambling in the state. Only a two-thirds vote of parliamentarians in both chambers, as well as public approval in the November election, will allow this to happen.
Why The Bill to Bring Casinos to Texas Doesn’t Look Likely
Unfortunately, the bill appears to have failed to proceed through the House, which means it’s unlikely to pass this time around. The deadline for advancing the bill through the House passed without the State Affairs Committee voting down House Joint Resolution 133, which was endorsed by the Las Vegas Sands. The bill, which received a hearing last month, would allow Texas voters to determine whether or not to develop destination resorts with casinos in the state’s four largest cities.
In addition to failing to pass through the House, the bill has yet to gain a committee hearing in the Senate, a sign that it will most likely amount to nothing here as well. Casino gambling then is still a long way off in Texas, and similar bills aimed at legalizing sports betting met a similar fate. For now, Texas players will have to go to Las Vegas or Portugal if they want to enjoy casino gambling.
Is There a Future for Gambling in Texas?
While the recent efforts to start Texas casino gambling appear to have failed, it’s unlikely to be the end of Las Vegas Sands’ efforts to enter the market. Texas represents a potentially massive market for gambling companies, and the Sands will have a big advantage if their proposed plans for four resort casinos get given the go-ahead. As such, and with a lot of money already invested, it’s very likely that they will try again later on.