Austin, TX, 7 hours ago — Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic nominee for governor of Texas, floated the concept of lifting the casino ban in Texas and legalizing other forms of gambling as one way of providing additional tax revenue to the state.
O’Rourke made the comments at a news conference in Dallas as he railed against Gov. Greg Abbott for high property tax bills.
The Texas Constitution prohibits commercial gambling and most other forms of wagering, with a handful of exceptions including the Texas Lottery and approved charitable raffles.
“If we were to make legal casino gambling and sports betting in the State of Texas — which as you all know many Texans engage in now, it’s only that those revenues go to other states and to other state governments — we would be able to bring in billions of dollars more,” O’Rourke told reporters.
“And from listening to Texans from across the state, one, it’s a very popular proposal, and two, I think it would also help us to address some of the challenges we have in reducing inflation and property taxes in the State of Texas.”
The Democrat went on to say it “warrants a very close look” and that he was “inclined to support” the idea.
At the beginning of last year’s regular legislative session, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) balked at the idea that legalizing gambling would have a meaningful budgetary impact. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was also unpersuaded by the prospect.
Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of major casino gambling company Las Vegas Sands, funded a $2.3 million political action committee earlier this year that spent more than half of a million donating to candidates before the primary elections.
At Wednesday’s news conference, O’Rourke also contended that the Texas legislature should expand Medicaid, legalize marijuana, act to make appraisals fairer, and pay for education with more taxpayer funds from the state rather than local property taxes.
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