Las Vegas Sands is doubling down on its ambition of bringing casinos to Texas with a new political action group with over $2 million in the bank. Las Vegas Sands is interested in Texas because it believes the state’s expansion opportunities are limitless.
They have the financial means to make a significant splash, but they’ll have to fight their way through the red tape to be able to offer gambling soon.
Texas Sands PAC was established in January and, as of March, had spent over half a million dollars in over thirty races, primarily to help incumbents facing primary threats.
The PAC’s first report, filed with the Texas Ethics Commission in March, revealed the recipients — as well as $2.3 million in initial funding from Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands. She is the widow of former Sands CEO and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson.
What happens next?
Last year, the company launched a high-profile campaign in Texas to legalize casino gambling, but its measure to allow voters to decide failed to gain traction in the legislature, receiving only a House committee hearing. Despite this, the gaming company has stated that the PAC is part of its “long-term commitment to Texas.”
Sands PAC spokesman Matt Hirsch said in a statement;
“We appreciate these legislators’ willingness to engage in a candid discussion about the significant economic benefits that these destination resorts will bring to Texas, including the tens of thousands of jobs that will be created. We will continue to engage local and state leaders actively throughout the year, and we will be ready to return next session ready to adopt legislation that would finally allow individuals to make their own decisions on this subject.”
What are the benefits of the Texas Sands to politicians?
Over 30 House and Senate incumbents from both parties, as well as a handful of candidates seeking vacant seats, are among the first to benefit from the PAC’s generosity. The total contributions for each of the House races ranged from $3,000 to $25,000 in total.
The larger sums went to incumbents who are high on Speaker Dade Phelan’s and his supporters’ priority lists, like Republican Ryan Guillen, the South Texas member who switched parties from the Democrats recently.
The PAC offered Senate candidates a choice of $4,000 or $30,000, with the higher amount going to candidates like Pete Flores, a former Republican senator from Pleasanton who is running for re-election.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the most outspoken opponent of the Las Vegas Sands project in Texas among the state’s top three politicians, has made Flores’ primary a major issue.
The PAC also gave $75,000 to Gov. Greg Abbott, who is up against a slew of loud primary challengers.
How tough is the fight for Las Vegas Sands?
Although Texas has some of the tightest gambling laws in the country, Las Vegas Sands made the most serious push to open the state to casinos last year.
The core of the proposal was a question to voters about whether “destination resorts” featuring casino gaming should be established in the state’s four largest cities.
The bill, however, was impeded by a number of factors, including its late submission, Patrick’s apparent opposition, and a slew of other major issues that legislators were grappling with at the time.
The Adelsons have made waves in Texas before for their hefty campaign contributions. They gave $4.5 million to the Republican Party’s successful effort to keep its majority in the state House a year before the legislative session began.
Last Updated on by Ryan