Research from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston indicates many Texans would support the legalization of more Texas gambling options.
The survey found extensive public support for legislation that would upend Texas’ longstanding prohibition against most forms of casino gambling.
Renée Cross, a senior executive director and researcher at the Hobby School, said:
“Texas has historically had strict laws regulating most forms of gaming, even as neighboring states have expanded opportunities for casino gambling. Opponents have historically had powerful allies in the legislature, but we found the public appears ready to back major changes in how Texas regulates gambling.”
The survey, conducted between Jan. 9 and Jan. 19, included 1,200 people of the state’s population.
75% support the idea of more legal gambling in Texas
According to the results, Texans are very much in favor of expanding legal gambling in the state.
The poll found that 75% of people supported a proposed constitutional amendment by Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston. That amendment would legalize sports betting and allow up to four casino resorts.
More specifically, 75% of the people polled supported the idea, while 41% “strongly” supported it. At the same time, 25% of Texans oppose the bill, while 13% strongly oppose it.
The Black population examined was the most responsive, with 83% showing support. Then, 77% support followed by Latinos, and 73% by the white community.
The survey also indicated bipartisan support, ranging from:
- 80% of Democrats
- 74% of Independents
- 72% of Republicans
Likewise, 69% of Texans supported separate legislation that would only legalize online and in-person sports betting in the state.
What would Texas Senate Joint Resolution 17 require?
If passed by the legislature, Texas Senate Joint Resolution 17 (SJR 17), would require approval by a majority of voters in a November constitutional referendum.
The state would permit one casino resort in each of Texas’ four major metro areas:
- Dallas-Fort Worth
- San Antonio
The state would also limit “racinos” (casino gambling at horse and greyhound racetracks) and legalized sports betting. The state’s three tribal communities would also receive recognition for operating slot machines or casino gambling.
Expanding legal Texas gambling is a universal interest
Mark P. Jones, a senior research fellow at the Hobby School and political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, said:
“It’s not just that a majority of Texans support expanded gambling. We found a majority of people in urban, suburban and rural areas support it, and that cuts across racial, ethnic, partisan, religious, and generational lines.”
A striking 69% of born-again Christians said they support the legislation. That climbed to 78% among those who do not identify as born-again Christians.
Democrats, for example, were more likely to favor expanded gambling in Texas than Republicans. And older Texans were somewhat less likely to support it than younger people.
“We often talk about the issues that divide us as Texans, but proposals to expand legalized gambling in the state appear to be an example of the opposite. This shows us that there is room for common ground,” Jones concluded.
Texas gambling proponents say the resulting tax revenue would be used to provide tax relief. That money would also go toward funding for education and public safety.