Las Vegas Sands says it is in talks for Texas casino license, if allowed by voters
Las Vegas Sands is negotiating to bring a destination resort-style casino to Texas if allowed in the state, a representative of the company told lawmakers Wednesday.
The casino and resort company has been at the forefront of the effort to expand casino gambling in Texas to include commercial casinos that offer resort-like amenities like hotels, restaurants, meeting spaces, entertainment venues and shopping centers
Members of the House’s State Affairs Committee on Wednesday heard several gambling bills, including a proposal by Rep. Charlie Geren, a Fort Worth Republican, that would permit a limited number of the destination resort casinos in Texas. Two would be permitted in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to the bill.
Representatives from Sands were among those who addressed lawmakers during the public hearing on HJR 155. When asked what a casino may be worth, J.T. Foley of Sands said the company is in active negotiations for a license and couldn’t comment.
Foley declined to comment further on who Sands is negotiating with when asked by the Star-Telegram. The Texas Sands PAC, the company’s political arm, also declined to comment through spokesperson Matt Hirsch.
Sands has dozens of registered lobbyists this legislative session and its political action committee donated more than $2 million to Democratic and Republican candidates this past election cycle. It has also pushed for expanded gambling through the Texas Destination Resort Alliance.
Geren’s constitutional amendment permits two destination resort casinos in the Dallas-Fort Worth, two in the Houston area and one each in the San Antonio, Corpus Christi and McAllen areas. The bill also opens a bidding process for an eighth casino at an unspecified location in addition to the seven others, an update from a similar proposal filed earlier this year.
Under the bill, casino licenses would be administered using existing horse and dog racing licenses. Racetrack license holders as of Jan. 1, 2022, could apply or designate someone else to apply. This is how Sands and other companies who do not hold a racing license would likely get in the casino game.
There are 10 racetracks in Texas, five of which have races scheduled for 2023, according to the Texas Racing Commission.
Racetrack license holders could not have more than two casino licenses.
As of January, there are two entities with a majority share of three or more tracks in the state, according to racing commission records: Casino and entertainment company Penn Entertainment, Inc. and the LaMantia family of L&F distributors.
As of 4:30 p.m., lawmakers were hearing testimony on a bill that complements Geren’s proposed constitutional amendment. The bill by Rep. John Kuempel, a Seguin Republican, outlines the regulatory framework for gaming in Texas.
Lawmakers also heard public testimony on bills that would legalize online sports betting in Texas, if approved by voters.
House Bill 1942 author Rep. Jeff Leach, a Plano Republican, told his colleagues that betting is being done illegally and that his legislation would promote transparency and provide protections and accountability in the industry.
“Wagering on sports is here, and it’s here to stay,” Leach said.
Some who testified on the sports betting bill and other gambling bills raised concerns about gambling addiction were the practice expanded in the state.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.