Don't bet on gambling, gaming in Texas anytime soon, Lt. Gov. Patrick says

Chuck Lindell
Austin American-Statesman

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick tossed cold water on efforts to expand gambling and sports betting this legislative session.

Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, said Tuesday that he opposes expanded gaming and gambling, as do Republican senators, all but killing hopes of loosening casino and gambling laws while the Legislature is in session.

"I've never been in favor of it," he told radio host Chad Hasty on KFYO in Lubbock.

In the Senate, where Republicans have an 18-13 majority, there is no way a bill to legalize gambling could receive the 21 votes needed to send a constitutional amendment to the voters, Patrick said.

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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick gavels in the Senate at the Capitol on Wednesday January 13, 2021.

"We are nowhere close to having the votes for it," he said.

"We don't even have a bill that has been filed in the Senate on the issue," Patrick added. "When you don't even have a sponsor, it's not even a bill you spend much time on or think about. ...  I don't spend much time on it because the members are just against it."

Patrick also dismissed arguments that gambling proceeds could inject much-needed money into the state budget, saying the expected revenue would make a relatively small dent in a state that spends $125 billion a year.

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"It doesn't move any votes," he said, adding that the issue also is not a priority for the state's Republican voters, who tend to oppose expanding opportunities to wager.

Patrick said the pro-gambling message is diluted by competing interests, including race tracks, sports teams, Las Vegas casinos and nearby states that allow gambling. "There's so much infighting and competition amongst all the people in that arena. That's why it never goes anywhere," he said.

"And so it's not even an issue that's going to see the light of day this session," Patrick said.