AUSTIN, Texas – Texas has long held strong views against gambling, despite having the second-largest population in the country. But, with COVID-19 putting a huge dent in the state budget, could legal casino gambling in Texas come to the rescue? The billionaire owner of Las Vegas Sands, Sheldon Adelson thinks so.
Las Vegas Sands has already hired 10 lobbyists to try and push the agenda in the 2021 legislative session. TX HB 477 has been pre-filed in the state House of Representatives and will act as the starting point of conversation between lawmakers next month.
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“We view Texas as a worldwide destination and one of the top potential markets in the entire world,” saidAndy Abboud, top lobbyist for Las Vegas Sands during a conference hosted by the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association. “Texas is considered the biggest plum still waiting to be out there in the history of hospitality and gaming.”
The Texas casino gambling bill would technically legalize Class III gaming which according to the bill consists of “any game of chance, including a game of chance in which the outcome may be partially determined by skill or ability, that involves the making of a bet.”
The bill however does not mention legal gambling online specifically, leaving the door open for legislators to consider it.
The entities that would qualify for casino operator licenses would include the current greyhound and horse racing tracks as well as current tribal-owned gambling venues. That would be nine total.
The Texas Lottery Commission would be in charge of regulating the industry. Casino locations would be taxed 18% of their gross gaming revenue. Taxes collected would be put toward the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. The legal age to gamble at casinos in Texas would be set at just 18 and up.
If legalized the way it is now, the bill would actually take effect until December 1, 2021. Rules would still then have to be published. That process wouldn’t be able to start until May 1, 2022.
Cash frenzy casino online. While the bill already has a head start and the backing of Sheldon Adelson, it doesn’t mean that the bill is guaranteed to pass.
“We think that the elected members of the Legislature, as in the past, would recognize that this type of opportunity is not economic development and will end up hurting the state more than it would end up helping it,” said Rob Kholer, a lobbyist for Texas Values and the Texas Baptists Christina Life Commission.
Texas lawmakers have long-held conservative views on gambling and have fought against its legalization despite having such a large market for it.
However, given how much economic damage has come from COVID-19, the 2021 legislative session might be the best shot a casino bill has ever had in Texas.div.slide'>
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