Las Vegas Sands has contributed over $560,000 to politicians – on both sides of the aisle – who are running for state office in Texas.
Primary elections in the Lone State State began March 1.
Breaking down the contribution numbers
The Las Vegas-based casino company established a political action committee (PAC), with a single $2.3 million donation from Miriam Adelson, widow of Sheldon Adelson.
For this year’s Texas primaries, the Sand PAC contributed to 10 Democratic House candidates and one Democratic Senate candidate.
According to Mark P. Jones, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, contributions for Democratic candidates totaled $123,000.
The Sands PAC also donated $365,000 to Republicans running for office.
- 20 Republican House candidates
- 4 Republican Senate candidates
In addition, LVS contributed $75,000 to incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, who is facing seven opponents during the Republican primary.
What’s the goal in regards to gambling in Texas?
Last year, Sands backed gambling legislation by spending between $10 million and $20 million. The casino company went as far as to hire 51 lobbyists, but unfortunately, those efforts failed.
It appears this year, Sands is banking on a different outcome.
Jones had this to say,
“These donations are designed to lay the groundwork for another effort to obtain passage of pro-casino gambling legislation during the 2023 legislative session that will begin in January.”
“Out of the 150 Texas House districts, less than a half dozen will be competitive in November, and of the 31 Senate districts, at most one will be competitive in November. As a result, the actual composition of the 2023 Texas Legislature is being decided in the spring primaries, and hence this is the time of year when the Las Vegas Sands contributions are most valued by candidates.”
Could a Texas gaming bill ever pass?
Clyde Barrow, chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, knows the value of the governor’s support.
“I cannot recall a single state where expanded gambling has been approved without the governor’s support,” Barrow said.
Over the years, Abbott has opposed the expansion of gambling in Texas at every turn.
Should lawmakers proceed without Abbott’s support, it would require a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate. Regardless, Barrow said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick-R and Speaker Dade Phelan could block that vote instantaneously.
Barrow concluded by saying:
“Las Vegas Sands is clearly playing a long game. In many states, it has taken 10 to 15 years to secure the approval of casino legislation. As long as Sands continues to make incremental headway, they will stay in the game.”