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Odds are Long for Casino, Sports-Betting Measures in 2025 Texas Legislature

An April statewide poll shows a majority of Texans, 56 percent, support the creation of destination casinos in Texas.

The poll, conducted April 5-10 by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation, surveyed 1,600 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 2.45 percent.

The approval numbers dip into the 40-50 percent range when likely voters are asked about expansion of online gaming opportunities or allowing sports books at Texas sporting arenas.

“Since the reauthorization of parimutuel betting in Texas in 1991, various members of the Texas Legislature have endeavored to expand Texas-based gaming in some form or other, with the most recent initiatives being in the sports gaming and destination resort casino gaming sectors,” noted Jason Villalba, Chairman and CEO of the TXHPF. 

“Given the results of this survey, it is clear that the public appetite for additional gaming opportunities now matches the political appetite, not only with traditional supporters of gaming, but also with church-going Texans and women – that is a major change from what we have seen in recent legislative cycles.”

Read the THPF survey results here.

would be called upon to approve it in a statewide constitutional amendment vote, and therein lies the problem for proponents of gaming expansion.

A 2023 Gaming Expansion Effort Fails

Much-anticipated legislation legalizing online sports betting and establishing a few luxury casino gaming destinations across Texas in the 2023 legislative session wilted under political opposition in the Texas Capitol.

An expansive and expensive lobbying effort to pass these measures was undertaken by the gaming industry, but a series of concerns were raised privately and in public debate ranging from sex trafficking, property crime, criminal violence, predatory practices, and questionable college marketing partnerships.

While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Austin, and House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, have expressed support for state-regulated Texas casino gaming, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has to date, not publicly expressed support for such.

Instead, when HJR 102 by Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, an online sports betting measure cleared the Texas House, Patrick spared no time pulling the plug on its chances in the Texas Senate by declaring he wouldn’t even refer it to a committee.

Patrick said repeatedly in 2023 that there was not enough support in the Senate for the expansion of gaming in Texas.

Another measure that allowed in-state destination casino gaming if Texas voters approved, HJR 155 by Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Ft. Worth, failed to clear the Texas House when it did not receive the required two-thirds support in the lower chamber to advance to the Texas Senate.

Looking Ahead to 2025

TAB expects another full-throated push for gaming expansion in the 2025 Texas Legislature, but despite majority voter support for doing so, the odds of lawmaker passage remain, at best, uncertain.

There is a potential House leadership change based upon the outcome of the May 28 GOP primary runoff election featuring current House Speaker Phelan.

Capitol watchers are expecting at least 20 percent of the 150-member Texas House of Representatives to be freshman lawmakers in 2025.

While that’s not unusual, a House speaker contest is not common.

There will also be new names in the Texas Senate in 2025.

Capitol watchers, however, do not see Lt. Gov. Patrick’s firm control of the upper chamber lessening in any way.

Even if the Teas House were to pass such measures, such legislation would face long odds of passage in the Texas Senate.

Questions? Contact TAB's

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