88th LegislatureElections 2022IssuesAbbott, Democrats Received Another $132,000 From Las Vegas Sands’ Pro-Casino PAC

Commercial casinos are banned in Texas, but a political action committee funded by a Las Vegas corporation hopes to change that.
October 20, 2022
Texas Sands PAC — an interest group funded by Las Vegas Sands Corp. — reported tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to Gov. Greg Abbott as well as Democratic incumbents on the campaign finance documents submitted earlier this month. The PAC’s political contributions totaled $131,729 for the reporting period beginning on July 1 and ending on September 29.

Texas Sands cut a check for $50,000 to Gov. Greg Abbott’s reelection campaign in late September. The PAC did not make a donation to Abbott’s opponent Beto O’Rourke, which is ironic given the Democratic nominee has expressed support for legalizing casinos and Abbott has been in opposition.

However, a contribution to Abbott could be seen as more strategically sound. Recent polls of likely voters indicate that Abbott is leading the race, which he won overwhelmingly in 2014 and 2018.

Mike Collier, the Democratic challenger to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, also did not receive a contribution. Texas Sands gave Patrick $150,000 before the Republican runoff after he obliterated his opponents’ candidacies on primary day. Patrick shot down the idea of a casino bill early last year and cited the hodgepodge of “competing interests” that would inevitably arise from a fight over legalization.

Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) also got $150,000 before the runoff, but the latest report did not show another check to the speaker in the most recent filing period. Phelan has no Democratic opponent in November’s election in House District 21.

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All other contributions were between $3,000 and $5,000 with the exception of a $10,000 check to Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston), who authored an unsuccessful proposal during the 87th Legislature to place commercial casinos on the ballot in a statewide referendum. Sen. Boris Miles (D-Houston) received a $4,000 check.

The following Democratic incumbents in the Texas House received contributions:

  • Rhetta Bowers (D-Rowlett)
  • Terry Canales (D-Edinburg)
  • Harold Dutton (D-Houston)
  • Erin Gamez (D-Brownsville)
  • Ana Hernandez (D-Houston)
  • Jarvis Johnson (D-Houston)
  • Tracy King (D-Uvalde)
  • Joe Moody (D-El Paso)
  • Sergio Munoz Jr. (D-Palmview)
  • Claudia Ordaz Perez (D-El Paso)
  • Mary Ann Perez (D-Houston)
  • Ramon Romero Jr. (D-Fort Worth)
  • Toni Rose (D-Dallas)
  • Carl Sherman (D-De Soto)
  • Shawn Thierry (D-Houston)
  • Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston)
  • Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie)
  • Armando Walle (D-Houston)

While this round of contributions went primarily to Democratic lawmakers, the PAC was not shy about donating over a million dollars to both Republicans and Democrats before the primary and runoff earlier this year.

The PAC also gave $245,610 to dozens of Republican and Democratic lawmakers’ campaigns in June, as indicated in the semiannual campaign finance report. Each contribution was between $3,000 and $4,500.

Texas Sands is funded by Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands. Dr. Adelson’s late husband, Sheldon Adelson, was a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump.

While most forms of wagering are constitutionally banned in Texas, gray areas in state law have resulted in gambling rooms remaining open in parts of the state. Federally recognized Native American tribes also operate entertainment venues that offer electronic bingo machines and other games. Allowing commercial casinos would require an amendment to the Texas Constitution.

Meanwhile, the Texas Lottery Commission made more sales during Fiscal Year 2022 than in any previous year. It was the 12th year in a row that the Texas Lottery exceeded the prior year’s sales figures.

Election Day is on Tuesday, November 8. Early voting begins next week.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."