Following the deaths of several recent events, including its CEO, Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, the gaming empire Las Vegas Sands is pushing ahead with its aggressive efforts to bring casinos to Texas.
Late last year, the company made headlines in Austin by forming a strong lobbying team and announcing that Texas is its next major growth opportunity – “the industry’s biggest expectation still”. But since then, supervisor Glenn Hegar has given the state a much better-than-expected fiscal outlook and stopped speculation that gambling could become a significant source of revenue for the state. Then came the death of Sheldon Adelson, prominent chairman, founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands. New state house speaker Dade Phelan then gave his first public assessment of the effort, saying casinos should be seen as a “long-term investment” rather than a quick fix to state state problems.
While the company has not advertised casinos as a panacea for Texas budget-related illnesses, few can ban them from working in a different atmosphere in Texas than a month ago.
In a statement to this article, Andy Abboud, vice chairman of the board of Las Vegas Sands, said the company was not dissatisfied.
Opportunities for Texas enlargement
“The opportunities for expanding Texas’s tourism offerings are exciting, and we look forward to working with lawmakers in this session to showcase potential opportunities for solid, long-term economic growth and employment in the state,” Abboud said.
According to enrollments by the Texas Ethics Commission on Tuesday, the Texas lobbying group in Las Vegas Sands has grown rapidly to include 51 members. According to state reports, the organization spends $ 2.3-4.5 million on its advocacy company, which has only individual trustee fees.
Leticia Van de Putte, a former San Antonio state senator and 2014 candidate for governor, was recently added to the business.
The company’s Texas trustees were invited to a three-day retreat at its flagship Venetian Resort in Las Vegas earlier this month, a week before the session began.
Hegar told the news the following Monday: the state was facing a budget deficit of nearly $ 1 billion, far less than the $ 4.6 billion deficit he had predicted last summer. He predicted that policymakers will have $ 112.5 billion available for general spending over the next two years, a small decrease from the current budget but a significant increase on his summer forecasts.
“Of course, all the urgency [around the casinos] has disappeared after the supervisor provided a better revenue forecast,” said Eva DeLuna Castro, a budget expert at Every Texan, a left-wing Austin think tank.
The next day, as lawmakers prepared to travel to Austin at the start of the session, Adelson, 87, died of complications associated with his treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Adelson was one of the largest donors to Republican politics, and one of his most recent contributions to Abbott was half a million dollars at the end of last fall.
Abbott quickly showed respect for Adelson by describing him as “a remarkable American whose legendary business economy and stubbornness helped him grow from a humble beginning to a titanium in his profession,” the statement said.