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Friday, March 1, 2024

New Mavs Owners Make Big Bet on Texas Gambling Future

  • New majority owners of the Mavericks make two significant land deals in the Dallas area.
  • Gambling legalization in the country’s second most-populous state has run into firm resistance.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Neither sports betting nor commercial casino gambling will be legal in Texas until at least mid-2025, if not later. But the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Dallas Mavericks minority owner Mark Cuban continue to act as if they expect that legalization is coming. 

Less than a week after the Adelson and Dumont families that control the Sands Corp. completed their deal to acquire majority control of the team, a company established by those families has taken control of prime real estate near downtown Dallas previously held by Cuban. The parcel, more than a dozen acres in size, currently houses the team’s practice facility and is valued at $42.9 million for tax purposes. 

Another company formed by the Sands Corp., the publicly traded casino and resort giant, has also purchased more than 200 acres in nearby Irving—near the location of the Dallas Cowboys’ former Texas Stadium—valued at more than $36 million. The Sands Corp. has not detailed its plans for the properties. But the Mavericks’ deal with Cuban, reportedly valuing the team between $3.5 billion and $4 billion, is premised in part on the development of a new arena and casino complex in Dallas. 

“When you think of all the places you want to save up to vacation, Texas isn’t one of them,” Cuban said last year. “There’s no real destination that you save up for. That’s a problem, and I think resort gaming would have a huge impact.”

A Sands Corp. spokesman told The Dallas Morning News that “there certainly could be additional [land] purchases in the future” in Dallas.

Uphill Fight

Texas lawmakers meet in alternating years and will be back in session in 2025. While hopes of sports betting passage in the Lone Star State are rising in some corners, the issue ran into firm opposition during the 2023 legislative session, as did casino gambling. The Sands Corp. alone spent more than $6 million last year in Texas on lobbying, and the group was joined by dozens of other sports betting and casino advocates coveting the country’s second most-populous state. But there has been minimal appetite for gambling legalization thus far among Texas Republicans that control the legislature.

“I’ve said repeatedly there is little to no support for expanding gaming from [the] Senate GOP,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said last spring. “The senate must focus on issues voters expect us to pass. We don’t waste time on bills without overwhelming GOP support.”

Nearly eight months later, the political situation has not materially changed.

“When the session was over, there was not a cry from voters calling their senators or House members, [saying], ‘I needed this bill.’ ” Patrick said last month.

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