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Texas Teams Compete For Titles, As Effort To Expand Gaming Renewed

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Texas Teams Compete For Titles, As Effort To Expand Gaming Renewed

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Professional and college teams from Texas are challenging for national titles this year, but no one can bet legally on sports in the Lone Star State.

Sports betting is illegal Texas, the nation’s second most-populated state, with more than 30.5 million residents. The state also has no Las Vegas-style commercial casinos. 

Hoping to change that, an alliance seeking to expand gaming in the state has reactivated its lobbying group, Texas Destination Resort Alliance, and “began pouring money into those efforts,” according to the alliance website.

The pro-gaming website asks viewer to “join the team” by signing an online petition, giving their first name, email address and phone number. 


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Las Vegas Company Seeks Texas Casinos

The alliance is financed by Las Vegas Sands Corp., based in Nevada. The publicly traded company, controlled by Miriam Adelson, widow of Las Vegas casino pioneer Sheldon Adelson, no longer owns Nevada casinos but operates resorts in Macau and Singapore. 

Las Vegas Sands Corp. has sought unsuccessfully to win legislative approval for commercial casinos in major Texas cities such as Dallas and Houston. The state has a small number of tribal casinos that only allow certain gaming machines and non-banked card games.

The Texas Legislature can’t address the issue of commercial casinos again until lawmakers next meet in Austin in 2025. Sports betting legislation has been bottled up at the Legislature and also is expected to come up for consideration next year.

As CBS News noted, a change to the state constitution to legalize commercial gambling requires a two-thirds vote of the House (100 of 150 representatives) and Senate (21 of 31 senators) and then approval by voters in an election.

While polling indicates Texans could support commercial gaming expansion, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, a multmillion-dollar sports bettor, told Gambling.com he doesn’t expect that to happen in the near future. He cited resistance from religious groups as a factor in keeping legal gaming out of Texas.

McIngvale lives in Houston and travels to neighboring Louisiana and other states to place legal sports bets.

“There won’t be legal sports betting or gambling in Texas in my lifetime,” he said in 2022.

Late last year, Las Vegas Sands Corp. was given a green light to purchase controlling interest in the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

The Adelsons and previous Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who is retaining control of basketball operations, reportedly want to build an arena-casino complex in North Texas. Cuban has said the team is staying in that area.

Jon Taylor, a political science professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said on the Texas Destination Resort Alliance website that Sands Corp. “would not have purchased 61% of the Dallas Mavericks if they did not think that casino gaming was not coming to Texas at some point in the near future.”


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Texas Teams Have Title Shots

While sports betting remains illegal in Texas, several pro and college teams are vying for national titles.

In the NBA, the Mavericks are making a championship run, currently competing against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a best-of-seven series for the right to face the Boston Celtics or Indiana Pacers for the NBA title.

At the same time, the NHL’s Dallas Stars are battling the Edmonton Oilers, also in a best-of-seven series, to move on to the Stanley Cup Final against either the New York Rangers or Florida Panthers.

These aren’t only Texas teams challenging for championships.

Some of the state’s college teams have a shot at winning the men’s baseball and women’s softball championship tournaments now underway.

According to BetMGM Sportsbook, the Texas A&M Aggies are tied with another Southeastern Conference school, Tennessee, with the best odds (+600) of winning the national Division 1 baseball title in Omaha this June.

Currently, Texas is one of 12 states with universities competing in the SEC. Of those states, Texas and five others do not have legal sports betting, making it the largest geographic region nationally where wagering on athletic events is banned.

Across the country, sports betting is legal in 38 states and Washington, D.C.

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