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Fate of Texas Gambling Legislation Uncertain as Session Nears End


Texas Casinos Likely Remain Years Away

Despite uncertainty over the past few weeks, the legislation to permit casino gambling in Texas has been authorized for a vote by the full 150-member House this week.

However, the Republican-dominated 88th Legislature’s upcoming conclusion later this month raises concerns that the Senate may not receive the bill positively.

Rep. Charlie Geren proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow up to seven resort casinos in Texas, two of which would be located in the Fort Worth-Dallas area.

The House lineup for a Wednesday vote also includes a measure to legalize sports betting in Texas, supported by the state’s professional sports franchises.

Geren, who is a Fort Worth Republican and the Texas House speaker pro tempore, confirmed that the gambling legislation was approved for a House vote during a Monday afternoon House Calendars Committee meeting.

However, he refused to comment further before Wednesday’s House session to vote on the bills, saying that he had other things on his mind besides the debated bill.

law and gambling money

Lawmakers and lobbyists have been speculating for weeks about the future of the said legislation in Texas, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick showing reluctance to authorize casino gaming in the state.

While the gambling measures were approved by the House State Affairs Committee on April 3, it remained unclear whether the House Calendars Committee would force a vote if the Senate remained unresponsive.

Some lawmakers believed that the issue was unlikely to pass this session, as similar measures had failed in previous Legislatures.

Despite this, gambling lobbyists, led by the Sands Corporation of Las Vegas, have been fiercely pushing for the legalization of casinos and sports betting before the end of the legislative session on May 29.

The governor and the House Speaker had initially shown openness to legalized casino and wagering, but the fate of Rep. Charlie Geren’s proposed constitutional amendment to authorize up to seven resort casinos in Texas, including two in the Fort Worth-Dallas area, still hinges on a two-thirds vote by both the House and Senate before it can appear on the November 2023 ballot as a proposed change to the Texas Constitution.

The proposed destination resorts would offer various amenities, such as entertainment complexes, luxury hotels, convention spaces, and restaurants, according to Geren.

Despite resistance from some lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, proponents of betting have continued to push for its legalization and have seen some encouraging signs from Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan.

The proposed legislation, which would authorize up to seven resort casinos in Texas, is now headed for a vote in the House and faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.

The outcome of this issue remains to be seen as the 88th Legislature heads to a finish later this month.

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