November 2023 saw the sale of the controlling interest in the Dallas Mavericks to the Adelson and Dumont families, owners of casino company Las Vegas Sands Corporation, known for operating multiple premier gambling venues worldwide. Shortly after the major acquisition of a 73% stake in the team, Dallas City Council members are discussing whether the city should join the state’s conversation about legalizing casino gambling in Texas. This is a topic of contention that has council members divided.
Some argue that legalizing gambling statewide could help generate capital for the state’s underfunded police and fire pension funds. Others see gambling as a potential threat to public safety. Furthermore, people of lower socioeconomic status would be among the most vulnerable groups in society, according to some council members.
Earlier this month, at the Economic Development Committee Meeting, held on January 9, council members tackled the subject and agreed that legalizing gambling in Texas was a “controversial issue”.
The debated theme of casino gaming and sports betting emerged in the context of a potential Dallas City stake in casino gaming, with yet another major acquisition of the owners of the Las Vegas Sands Casino – the purchase of a prime development site near Downtown Dallas. Located on Stemmons Freeway at Inspiration Drive in the Design District, the property spreads across more than a dozen acres.
Currently, as per Texas laws on gambling, casinos are illegal, and keeping a gambling venue is prohibited. However, Native American lands are not subject to this restriction and fall within federal gaming guidelines.
Dallas City Council Members Share Their Views on Legalizing Casino Gaming and Sports Betting
At the most recent Economic Development Committee Meeting, Dallas City Council Member, Chad West expressed an opinion that legalizing casino gaming and sports wagering could benefit the state’s universities. If passed, the gambling bills could allocate 80% of the revenue into university funds.
Furthermore, Councilman Adam Bazaldua reaffirmed that the legalization of the gambling sector could help generate funds for the police and fire pension funds. He said that failing to legalize the industry would be “a huge, missed opportunity”.
Some of the other council members argued that conversations about public safety are necessary before calling on state lawmakers to legalize gambling. Casinos could cause more challenges for the police, as some noted.
Opponents of gambling further added that it would take a heavy toll on the poor. As Councilwoman, Carolyn King Arnold said: “Seldom do you see millionaires in the casinos”. She added that this segment of society was attracted to gambling because “it is all about the wish and the dream”.
All 14 members of the Dallas City Council will discuss the topic again at its next meeting, scheduled for February 21.