The biggest impact of the reported sale of the majority ownership of the Dallas Mavericks will be on the Dallas Mavericks. Despite the tangible connections of the potential new ownership group to the gambling industry, the Mavericks’ ownership change isn’t knocking over any dominoes.
There are two key reasons why the involvement of the family of the late Sheldon Adelson in the Mavericks is anything but a game-changer for the prospect of legal gambling expansion in Texas. It’s best for those who hope to see such expansion in the near future to view these matters as unrelated to each other.
The Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s interest in Texas
The first reason why the Adelson family’s possible involvement with the Mavericks is essentially irrelevant in the context of gambling expansion is that the Adelson family has already been active in Texas politics.
Miriam Adelson, Sheldon’s widow, was a significant donor to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s last reelection campaign. The Las Vegas Sands Corp. has been similarly active in Texas under the guidance of the Adelson family.
For example, Sands CEO Robert Goldstein made clear the company is interested in operating casinos in Texas. Sands has backed up Goldstein’s words with donations to candidates for the state’s legislature.
All those efforts have been unsuccessful to this point. While the new ownership group is significant for the Mavericks’ operations, the new ownership doesn’t represent a change in terms of the organization’s stance on gambling expansion.
Cuban was all-in on gaming expansion
The person possibly financially benefitting from this potential transaction (the NBA has not approved the ownership change yet) was anything but opposed to the expansion of legal gambling. In fact, Mark Cuban was among the most ardent supporters of that premise.
That support went beyond simply using his celebrity status and voice. The Mavericks are part of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance and have helped finance that organization’s lobbying of the state legislature. In addition, Cuban discussed partnering with Sands on a casino in the Dallas area.
Thus, this change (if it happens) doesn’t represent a substantive transformation as far as the Mavericks having an owner who supports gaming expansion goes. That has been the case already. It could be true that in the future, Miriam Adelson might have a slightly stronger lobbying position as she could truly say she is invested in Texas in a more public way.
It’s also true that Miriam Adelson’s estimated net worth is a multiple of Cuban’s. However, that’s no guarantee she is going to devote any more of those resources toward pushing for gaming expansion in Texas.
Furthermore, there’s no evidence that the Adelsons buying into the Mavericks or simply throwing more money at the expansion campaign will make enough of a difference to change the outcome.
The real obstacle to Texas gambling expansion
The true linchpin in terms of gaming expansion in Texas is the state Senate’s greatest power broker, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. For the past two legislative sessions, Patrick has refused to even bring legislation to potentially expand Texas gambling to the floor for votes.
During the last term, Patrick stated that senators had not expressed to him that it was a priority for them. Patrick’s words rang true as even the Senate sponsor of a bill to put the issue of sports betting to voters did not push for the item.
Additionally, Patrick conveyed that the votes to pass any gaming expansion measures did not exist in the chamber. This was all despite the prodding of people like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. It’s unclear whether any member of the Adelson family would have more potential influence over Patrick than Jones.
Patrick isn’t up for reelection until 2026, meaning he will be firmly in his position in 2025 when the Texas legislature reconvenes (the Texas legislature only meets in odd-numbered years). Looking forward from there, the Adelson family and Sands might have an opportunity to influence him with campaign donations. They were not among his top donors in 2022.
A better strategy for gambling expansion advocates may be to replace Patrick with another candidate who is more friendly to gaming interests. The Adelsons and Sands might be active on that front in 2026.
Should the Adelson family use its money to influence that race, that may still be the case even if their desired ownership of the Mavericks falls through or if they had never made such an agreement in the first place. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee the Adelsons potentially throwing money at the issue alone will tip the scales.
It’s best not to read too much into this potential Mavericks ownership change. The status quo for Texas gambling could remain for years regardless.