The weight of the casino industry is behind a lawmaker’s push to bring up to seven “destination resorts” that have gambling to Texas.
Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, introduced legislation Monday that would amend the state’s constitution to allow casinos to be built in Texas. It would also allow sports betting, which has the blessing of Dallas Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones.
The Sands Corporation is firmly behind Geren’s efforts, and is funding the Texas Destination Resort Alliance, a lobbying coalition “fighting to bring the world-class gaming, entertainment, and restaurants Texans already enjoy in other states into our own backyards, creating billions in new revenue for our state to continue to make Texas the greatest state to live, work, and raise a family,” according to it’s website.
“These destination resorts will bring massive economic benefits to the state, including tens of thousands of jobs,” spokesman Matt Hirsch said in a statement. “We look forward to working alongside the Texas legislature and ultimately gaining the support of Texans to make destination resorts a reality.”
Texans will hear the phrase “destination resorts” on TV and radio commercials many times in the next couple months as the public relations push begins, and they’re going to sound a lot like how Geren described his vision of these gambling complexes.
The resorts won’t just be casinos, he told CBS News in Dallas/Forth Worth, “but fabulous hotels, restaurants, showrooms, and retail. All of that creates jobs but it generates a lot of money for the state.”
Geren’s resolution would allow two casinos to be built in Dallas/Fort Worth, two in Houston, and one in each city of San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and McAllen.
The Texas legislation session runs through May 29. In order for Geren’s resolution to pass, two-thirds of the House (100 of 150 Representatives) and Senate (21 of 31 Senators) would have to approve.
It would then be up to voters in November.
May put Texas card rooms in peril
In the last decade or so, dozens of card rooms, like The Lodge in Austin, have sprung up all through Texas. These rooms exist in a grey area of the law that leaves the owners susceptible to the whims of local elected officials. It’s a sort of a legal loophole that allows private clubs to exist and spread poker games as long as the operators do not take rake, but sometimes officials pull the rug out from under owners, clubs are shut down, and occupancy permits are pulled, like what happened in Dallas last January.
While owners of these rooms have formed their own coalitions to ask the state to rewrite the rules in order to for them to have the assurance they are totally legal, it hasn’t happened. It seems like lawmakers prefer to allow the courts to decide the poker room’s fate, which may happen in the case in Dallas.
With Geren’s sudden push to bring casinos into Texas, they will want to put those efforts into overdrive, because if the casino industry enters Texas, they will most likely put pressure on Government officials to crack down on the rooms.
This is only speculative, but think about it: Would a casino giant like The Sands Corporation spend tens-of-millions of dollars to build casinos in Dallas or Houston sit back and allow known gamblers to patronize rooms that may or may not be totally legal? Would they not do everything they can to make sure those players only spend money at their properties by utilizing its political network and many bags of money?
The answer is no freakin’ way.