At a press conference in Dallas, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke hinted at his support for expanding casino gambling and legal sports betting, citing the potential revenue that is currently being lost as Texans cross state lines to take part.
“From listening to Texans across the state, it’s one, a very popular proposal, and two, it would also help us address some of the challenges we have in reducing inflation and property taxes in the state,” O’Rourke said. “So I think that warrants a very close look and it’s something I’m inclined to support.”
The legalization of gambling would provide a new revenue source for the state budget and facilitate reduced reliance on property taxes to fund the government. O’Rourke has also indicated his support for legalizing cannabis, a currently banned substance that promises similar economic prospects.
Casino gambling is legal in neighboring states New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana, while sports betting is legal in both Louisiana and Arkansas. Gov. Greg Abbott has long opposed the expansion of gambling. His position aligns with the Texas Republican Party platform, which specifically states: “We oppose and call for a veto of any budget that relies on expansion of legalized gambling as a method of finance.”
In recent years, lobbyists have been attempting to get Republican lawmakers to change their position. Most notable, the late Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino tycoon, sent $5 million in campaign donations to Texas GOP politicians over the six months before he died in early 2021. To change the constitution, casino backers would need to get two-thirds of the House and Senate to support putting a measure on the ballot.