Miriam Adelson Donation Might Have Moved Abbott On Gambling

Written By Derek Helling on October 26, 2022 - Last Updated on October 27, 2022
million miriam adelson donation greb abbott

A Miriam Adelson donation might have finally met Texas Gov. Greg Abbott‘s asking price for support for expanded gambling in the state. Abbott, whom some polls show in a near dead-heat for re-election next month, signaled he is open to the idea of casinos in Texas recently.

The comment comes almost in concert with a seven-figure donation to a political action committee supporting Abbott’s re-election from Adelson, who is the largest shareholder in the Sands Corporation. While Abbott’s comments aren’t a ringing endorsement of the idea of casinos in Texas, there’s a solid reason why he might have held back on making such a statement currently.

Miriam Adelson donation is just latest in series of Texas investments

Adelson, who is the widow of the late Sheldon Adelson and gained his shares in the Sands Corp. after his death, has a habit of using funds to try to open Texas up to more gambling. In 2020, Sheldon gave $5 million to support candidates in Texas, including Abbott.

Now, Miriam has added another million to the Texans for Greg Abbott PAC as of last month. The motivation behind the donations has been clear; Sands views Texas as a market ripe for expansion. Earlier this year, Sands CEO Robert Goldstein confirmed as much.

Abbott’s past public stances toward gaming have been mixed. He opposed the establishment of a tribal casino in the state and his administration has tried to shut down limited tribal gaming in Texas as well. At the same time, he supported a 2021 push to legalize Texas sports betting.

It now seems that Abbott is at least receptive to proposals regarding brick-and-mortar casinos in Texas, however. The timing of Abbott’s statement is interesting as it comes just weeks after Adelson’s donation as well.

Abbott signals he’s ready to consider gambling expansion

Jeremy Wallace of the Houston Chronicle shared a statement from Abbott’s press secretary on Tuesday.

“We don’t want slot machines at every corner store, we don’t want Texans to be losing money that they need for everyday expenses, and we don’t want any type of crime that could be associated with gaming. But, if there is a way to create a very professional entertainment option for Texans, Gov. Abbott would take a look at it.”

Abbott’s campaign has received campaign donations from other individuals involved in the gaming industry such as Tilman Fertitta, who just got approval for a new casino in Las Vegas. Additionally, both Adelsons and a PAC backed by the Sands Corp. have donated to Democrats running for state lawmaker positions in Texas.

For the Adelsons and Sands, opening Texas up to commercial casinos is the main issue. It seems they will support any candidate in the state who they believe could help them achieve that goal regardless of political affiliation.

It also looks like no matter which way the 2022 gubernatorial election in the state goes, Texas will have a governor that is at least open to the idea. Earlier this year, Democratic nominee Beto O’Rourke indicated he is not opposed to the general notion.

Neither Abbott nor O’Rourke has acted as an advocate for expanded gambling in Texas yet, though. For Abbott, appearing open to the idea but not pushing for it could be a calculated political move. Officially, the Republican Party of Texas is opposed to expanded gambling.

In a tight race, Abbott can’t afford to lose any votes from his own party by appearing to be too in favor of commercial casinos. Should he win re-election, though, Adelson’s donation might have bought his support in the next term.

Photo by AP Photo/Eric Gay
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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