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Cuban Mavericks Sale Sparks Gambling Conversation

The majority of average Texans would not be opposed to legislation legalizing gambling.
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Photo courtesy of Aidan Howe, Unsplash

Following the sale of Mark Cuban’s majority stake in the Mavericks to Miriam Adelson, widow of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, conversation has once again risen regarding the potential expansion of gambling to Texas.

Because of the recent interest sparked on the topic, it is possible that Texas lawmakers may debate legalizing gambling across the state. This controversial conversation, aimed to boost economic growth throughout the state, has ignited fiery debate among political caucuses, business leaders and community groups, garnering large support from both sides of the general public.

As of right now, gambling of any form is illegal in Texas, whether it be online or in-person. This legislation has even been written into the Texas constitution, meaning that any form of differing gambling legislation would require an amendment to be put into place.

“It’s just a long process. First of all, our state legislature only meets once every two years, so it’s not going to get done this year,” SMU law professor Kevin Vela said. “And even if the Texas state legislature wanted to do it, [change] requires ⅔ of the House and Senate, so it’s not something I believe that the legislature can just push through on its own.”

This being said, previous gambling-related legislation has garnered record-high support from both Democrats and Republicans. According to a poll conducted by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, three out of four (75%) Texans support [Texas Senate Joint Resolution 17 (SJR 17)]. Just 13% strongly oppose the change.

“It’s hard to ignore the fact that [gambling] is so popular,” SMU economics professor Wayne Taylor said. “It has the potential to rake in a lot of money for the state.”

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Despite this, the Republican-controlled Senate, having expressed disinterest in such a change, doesn’t seem likely to change their viewpoint on the issue.

“With the current legislative makeup, I don’t see the policy making it out,” economics teacher Jerry Howland said. “Now, if the legislative makeup changes before the next election cycle, the story could change, but I don’t predict such a massive shift this coming year.”

In addition, ardent lobbying from out-of-state casinos in Oklahoma and Louisiana has been a limiting factor in the passage of legislation. Because gambling is illegal in Texas, many Texans go to these neighboring states’ casinos.

“WinStar and Choctaw have a vested interest in making sure a casino does not open up in Dallas; it’ll kill their business completely,” Howland said. “They will lobby as hard as they can to keep that from happening.”

The support from the general public is not without cause; if gambling were legalized in Texas, the Texas government would see a significant profit.

“For example, the money could go to addressing the teacher pay issue,” Vela said. “Some other states have tied gambling revenues to teacher pay, and that has been a big win for them because it has worked out so well.”

Additionally, anti-gambling laws are rarely enforced, and Texans are still able to, though illegally, participate in things like online sports betting.

“Regardless of what you think about gambling, people do it,” Taylor said. “And if you can take that money and put it to good use through more schools, more hospitals, something useful for the state, I don’t think there’s much of a downside.”

About the Contributor
Will Gaffey, Design editor
What are your favorite TV shows/movies? His Dark Materials, Game of Thrones, Dead Poets Society, and Puss and Boots 2 Who are your favorite music artists? Sublime, Third Eye Blind, Kendrick, and Cage The Elephant What causes are you passionate about? I am extremely passionate about all things related to the environment