New survey shows broad support for expanded gambling in Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — A new survey from the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation shows voters support some types of legalized gambling. There is speculation that legislation to legalize casino-style gaming could be reintroduced this session. 

The Texas Senate, led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, has long stood in the way of expanding gambling in Texas. Just last year, the senate rejected a bill to authorize online sports betting after passing the House.

Mark Jones is a political science professor at Rice University in Houston and co-directed a survey from the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation that looked at how voters feel about expanding gambling in Texas. The poll shows 47% of likely voters support legislation to legalize online sports gaming and 56% of likely voters support legislation to authorize the construction and operation of destination resort casinos in Texas.

“One of the most interesting things we found with the destination and casino legislation is the majority support for it across all cross sections of Texas,” said Jones.

Opponents to gambling in Texas say the real polls will be during the election, but gambling isn’t the top issues among voters.

“In the Texas House races that the people who are going to come to Austin aren’t walking around their district telling everybody that if you send me to Austin I’m going to vote for casinos,” said Rob Kohler with the Christian Life Commission.

Even though casino gambling is not legal, advocates are betting on it. Dallas Mavericks minority owner Mark Cuban has said he wants a destination-style resort in Dallas with the Mavericks playing there.

He sold the Mavericks to the Adelson and Dumont families, who also own Las Vegas Sands Corp., with the hope their lobbyists can make the case for casinos.

“During the last legislative session where we saw a concerted effort by the Las Vegas Sands and other groups to donate money to individual legislators and spend a tremendous amount of money to lobby both the public as well as members of the legislator,” said Jones.

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