as Vegas Sands said last Thursday the Dallas-Fort Worth area would be the top target location for a casino resort if gambling is legalized in Texas.
In a small briefing with reporters, the Sands team said Dallas would be the most attractive spot to build a resort due to its robust convention and tourism industry, as well as proximity to airports and out-of-state casinos.
“We’ll look at the entire market of Texas, but focus primarily on Dallas because that is where the greatest bleed of money is going, across the Oklahoma border,” said Andy Abboud, senior vice president of government affairs for the Las Vegas Sands, The Dallas Morning News reports. “While it has a strong tourism industry, we can enhance that.”
Abboud said the Sands team envisions building resorts in at least four major metro areas if casino gambling is legalized there. Acknowledging that overturning the state’s ban on gaming is a heavy lift in conservative Texas, Abboud said it’s important to start the conversation now to ensure long-term success. “Does it happen this legislative session? We will see. Does it happen in the near future? It is inevitable,” he said.
The Sands’ ambitious plan is an indication that the push to bring casinos to Texas remains strong after the death of founder and Sands owner Sheldon Adelson last month, and the opposition from Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick this week.
“There’s so much infighting and competition among all the people in that arena; that’s why it never goes anywhere,” Patrick said Tuesday. “And so it’s not even an issue that’s going to see the light of day this session.”
As president of the GOP-dominated state Senate, Patrick has outsized power over whether legislation moves through his chamber. Abboud said he hopes to change his mind by overcoming these competing interests and bringing together like-minded partners to join their effort in the coming weeks and months.
“He’s a very impressive guy, and he has his political philosophies,” Abboud said of Patrick. “I am very optimistic and bullish on the fact that we are going to make a really compelling case.”
The Sands will be rolling out its legislation soon, Abboud said, which will seek to overturn the ban on casino gambling and create a regulatory framework that requires parties interested in building casinos there to make a minimum investment of at least a couple of billion dollars. He said the legislation would allow the state’s three federally recognized Indian tribes, one of which operates a casino in Eagle Pass with limited gaming, to move to full-fledged casino gambling.
Abboud added polling shows that Texans would vote to loosen the state’s gambling restrictions if given the chance: “Voters are way ahead of where policymakers are.”
In addition to the casino push, several pro teams told The Dallas Morning News that they have formed a coalition to legalize sports betting in Texas. The effort already has the backing of the five North Texas pro franchises, including the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and Dallas Mavericks.
Abboud hopes they can work in tandem. The sports betting coalition has not publicly backed the casino push; however, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has expressed his support for both efforts.
On Wednesday, Abboud shot down rumors that Cuban is interested in building his own casino in the Dallas area. Cuban appeared via video to speak to the Sands’ Texas team, which now boasts 60 lobbyists, at a recent gathering in Vegas. Abboud said they have spoken to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and other pro teams as well.