AUSTIN – After weeks of uncertainty, legislation authorizing casino gambling in Texas was allowed to vote this week with the entire 150-member House despite the potential for a grim Senate reception as the 88th Republican-dominated legislature comes to an end later this month.
A constitutional amendment proposed by Congressman Charlie Geren that would authorize up to seven casino resorts in Texas, including two in the Fort Worth-Dallas area, was entered into the House lineup for a vote on Wednesday, along with a state-backed measure state. professional sports franchises that would allow sports betting in Texas.
Geren, a Republican from Fort Worth and acting speaker of the Texas House, acknowledged that the gambling legislation had passed a House vote during a late afternoon meeting of the House Calendars Committee on Monday, but he declined further comment before Wednesday’s House session to vote on the measures.
“I have a lot more on my mind right now than just a gambling bill,” Geren told the Fort Worth Report.
The fate of the gambling legislation in this session was the subject of a weeks-long guessing game between lawmakers and lobbyists, with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, the president of the 31-member Senate, showing resistance to the gaming license in Texas.
The gambling measures won approval in the House State Affairs Committee on April 3, but it is unclear whether the House Calendars Committee, the legislative clearinghouse that approves bills for a full House vote, he would like to force a House vote if gambling faces an impasse in the Senate.
A number of lawmakers polled as recently as this week said they had seen no signs of movement on the gambling front, and many said they believed the issue had appeared dead by session, a repeat of the same fate. which has happened to other measures on gambling in previous legislatures.
However, hordes of gambling lobbyists led by the Sands Corporation of Las Vegas have embarked on a ferocious effort to roll over past defeats and push casinos and sports betting through the latest legislative session, which ends on May 29.
Gambling forces saw signs or encouragement at the start of the January session after Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan signaled they may be more open to legalized gambling.
If authorized by a two-thirds vote of the Texas House and Senate during the current 140-day legislative session, Geren’s measure would go before voters on the November 2023 ballot as a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution.
Proposed destination resorts would include entertainment complexes, four to five star hotel accommodations, premier convention and meeting spaces, casino gaming, live entertainment and entertainment venues, destination retail shopping, night clubs, world-class spas and a wide variety of restaurants, according to Geren.