GOP Megadonor’s Interest in Texas Brings New Hope for Legal Casinos

Texas lawmakers have traditionally been unwilling to legalize casinos, with a number of previous efforts to introduce this type of gambling in the state failing to gain much traction in the Legislature.

However, the state saw increased interest from casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson during the latest election cycle, which gambling proponents saw as a potentially good sign for a renewed effort to authorize Las Vegas-style gaming establishments.

The businessman and his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, contributed more than $4.5 million into Republic campaigns for the state House during the latest election cycle.

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And ahead of the new legislative session, a Texas lawmaker has pitched a constitutional amendment that would legalize casino in certain areas of the state. State Rep. Joe Deshotel, a Democrat, said that now may be the best time for Texas to revisit its gambling laws.

The lawmaker went on that the legalization of casinos would “keep Texas money in Texas.” All of Texas’ neighboring states have at least one casino near or at the state line, luring Texans to gamble at their gambling establishments.

Rep. Deshotel further pointed out that authorizing casinos would help the state “cut the money leaving Texas” and that this money could instead go to the state’s coffers as tax dollars and help “Texans who need help.”

New Casino Effort

Rep. Deshotel has proposed the authorization of Las Vegas-style casino establishments in certain coastal areas of the state. A similar proposal fell short during the previous legislative session, as did six other bills calling for the legalization of casino gambling in way or another.

The new legislative session is scheduled to begin in January. Texas lawmakers will have the challenging task to mend a $4.6 billion budget shortfall. The legalization of casinos could generate new revenue for the state, but as already mentioned previous efforts have never gained traction in the past.

However, with a strong lobbyist like Mr. Adelson, things might unfold differently this time around. Mark Lipparelli, member of the Advisory Board of the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that “naturally, all of the significant players in the [casino]

industry would put Texas at the top of their lists.”

Mr. Adelson’s casino empire, Las Vegas Sands, last month was reported to have been working with an adviser to solicit interest for its Las Vegas properties. The company may collect more than $6 billion for its Venetian and Palazzo resorts and the Sands Expo Convention Center. The properties are all connected along the Las Vegas Strip.

The company confirmed that it was in early discussions about a potential sale of its Vegas portfolio, but nothing was finalized yet.

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