Millions Spent Lobbying Sports, Casino Gambling in Texas

You have probably heard or seen the ads. Las Vegas Sands is pouring money into the Texas Destination Resort Alliance to saturate the airwaves and lobby state lawmakers for casino gambling, with plans to continue doing so in the future if needed.

Proposed legislation calls for a statewide vote to put casino resorts in Houston, DFW, Austin and San Antonio.

Casino gaming advocates argue millions of tax dollars a leaving Texas for neighboring states. Las Vegas Sands' senior VP Andy Abboud says there's only one way to bring that money back -- by placing heavily regulated casino resorts in Texas.

“We will only be allowed by our other regulators, particularly in Nevada, to go into states that have very highly regulated environment,” he told a state house committee last week.

Abboud says Texas is already far behind other states when it comes to gambling.

“It is being passed in conservative states all across the country, from sports betting to full-blown casino gaming,” he said. “The reason people like destination resorts is because it creates jobs. Tens of thousands of jobs. Tens of thousands of good paying jobs.”

Opponents fear casino gambling would lead to addiction.

“We have a lot of problems with addiction across the country, but you need to have the resources to deal with it. Right now, the state of Texas does not have those resources,” Abboud said.

“The companies that would bid on these would need to have a proven track record of dealing with those issues, with very comprehensive responsible gaming programs.”

There is also a bill to allow sports gambling in Texas. Sports Betting Alliance argues sports betting is already going on illegally in Texas. It estimates the state could still rake in $180 million for the state's current budget and upwards of $400 over two years.

Both bills were left pending in committee.