Dallas City Council Split on Casinos

Posted on: January 23, 2024, 04:35h. 

Last updated on: January 23, 2024, 04:35h.

Amid incremental momentum for Dallas becoming home to a casino hotel, the city council there has diverging viewpoints on the issue.

dallas casino
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson (R). The city council there is split on the idea of the city being home to a casino. (Image: Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP Photo)

Following the recent sale of majority control of the Dallas Mavericks to the families of Dr. Miriam Adelson and Sivan and Patrick Dumont and an entity tied to Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) acquiring 108 acres of land near Texas Stadium in Irving, the city council in Texas’ second-largest city is pondering wading into the casino debate.

Adelson is the widow of Sands founder Sheldon Adelson and Patrick Dumont — the company’s chief financial officer (CFO) — is her son-in-law. The families, not the gaming company, now control the Mavericks, but transaction has stoked speculation that the team and Sands could eventually partner on a Dallas casino resort — something now minority owner Mark Cuban has long pushed for.

The aforementioned land deal and the sale of the Mavericks have prompted the Dallas City Council to consider getting involved in the effort to legalize casino gaming in Texas — an effort that was defeated in the 2023 legislative session.

Dallas City Council Shows Casino Divide

The Dallas City Council’s arguments for and against casinos are familiar, though pertinent.

At a meeting earlier this month, Councilman Adam Bazaldua said passing on casinos would be a “huge missed opportunity,” noting that a gaming venue could help the city shore up firefighter and police pension plans. There is evidence that casinos have bolstered public pensions in some cities while falling short of that objective in others.

Councilman Chad West added noted that the casino bills that failed last year promised significant funding for Texas universities, including some campuses in the Dallas area.

Conversely, Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold expressed concern that a casino in Dallas would not attract affluent residents and visitors, but it would rely on business from locals with limited economic resources.

Seldom do you see millionaires in the casinos,” she said at the meeting. “Those are poor people because it is all about the wish and dream.”

Last month at a luncheon held by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Eric Johnson (R-Dallas) was non-committal about the idea of casinos, but clearly noted that any group hoping to bring a gaming venue to the city must actively partner with the city council on that effort.

Dallas Casino Still Long Way Off

While families with clear ties to the gaming industry now own the Mavericks and Sands owns land in the Dallas area, a casino hotel appearing in the city is still a long-term concept.

In order for that dream to become a reality, two-thirds majorities of both houses of the Texas legislature must approve amending the state’s constitution. Then, the matter would be put to voters. It’s widely expected that if the issue makes it that far, voters would approve it.

However, with 2024 being an election year, casino gaming won’t appear on the legislative docket meaning the earliest Texas will revisit the matter will be next year.

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