You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

North Texas lawmaker files constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling in Texas

Dallas Morning News logo Dallas Morning News 2/3/2023 Aaron Torres, The Dallas Morning News
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban celebrates a 118-117 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Dallas on Wednesday, Feb.10, 2021. © Brandon Wade/Dallas Morning News/TNS Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban celebrates a 118-117 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Dallas on Wednesday, Feb.10, 2021.

AUSTIN, Texas — A longtime influential Republican representative from the Dallas-Fort Worth area has filed legislation calling for a constitutional amendment election to legalize casino and sports gambling in Texas, including at Lone Star Park horse race track in Grand Prairie.

Political and sports industry leaders in Dallas and Fort Worth have been pushing for expanded gambling to allow casinos for years for the jobs, tourism and economic benefits it would bring to North Texas.

The Las Vegas Sands corporation and others in the gambling industry have hired an army of lobbyists and are spending millions to push their case in Austin.

Rep. Charlie Geren, a Republican, filed legislation Friday, a few months after Democratic Sen. Carol Alvarado filed a similar senate resolution calling for the same.

“Polling over the last year makes it clear that more than 85% of Texans want the right to vote on this issue, (R)epublicans and (D)emocrats alike,” Geren said in a statement. “It is high time that the legislature listens to the voters and allow them to decide this issue. I, for one, am not in the business of denying the voters of Texas their voice when their preference is so clear.”

Geren’s resolution is one of several bills relating to expanding gambling in Texas expected to be filed in the next few weeks amid a heavy push to bring gambling to the Lone Star State, which has long been resistant to making that move.

But now Texas is missing out on the wave of gambling legalization and expansion in states across the nation, and supporters say it’s time for the state to get in on the business. The national trend has involved both destination-style casinos and sports betting. Some neighboring states to Texas — Louisiana and Arkansas and Oklahoma — already allow one or more forms of expanded gambling.

Legalized sports gambling has expanded tremendously across the nation since the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on it in 2018. According to the American Gaming Association, sports betting is legal in 36 states, including neighboring Louisiana. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is pushing for his state to join the list this year.

But it’s still too early to tell how feasible it is to get any type of gambling expansion in Texas this session. Past attempts have fallen short despite an overwhelming majority of Texans saying they support legalizing gambling. The lobbying push is also underway in this session.

House Joint Resolution 97, which was filed Friday, would allow for up to seven casino destination resorts across the state: two each in the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston areas, and one each in San Antonio, McAllen and Corpus Christi areas.

In the past, one major argument for expanding gambling in the state is the tax revenue would generate. But unlike states like Oklahoma and Louisiana, Texas has a booming economy and doesn’t need to turn to gambling to boost tax revenue.

But the key financial point to many casino gambling advocates is they believe the economic development impact that casinos would have on the state, including jobs and tourism.

The argument that the tax revenue could be used to fund things such as public education or infrastructure is not as pressing this legislative session, when lawmakers will determine how to spend a near $33 billion surplus.

While the location of destination casino resorts in Dallas, Fort Worth and other major Texas cities is far from decided — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants one tied to a new basketball and hockey arena — the one place in North Texas where a new casino is certain if any of the legislation is passed and approved by voters is Grand Prairie.

That’s where the existing Class 1 horse race Lone Star Park is located. It’s owned by a subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation, which also owns WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma, billed as the world’s largest casino, just an hour north of D-FW. Lone Star is the centerpiece of an existing Grand Prairie entertainment district on Interstate 30 at Belt Line Road, near Six Flags Over Texas, AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Field.

(Austin reporter Lauren McGaughy correspondant contributed to this report. )

©2023 The Dallas Morning News. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


More From Dallas Morning News

Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon