87th LegislatureElections 2022Taxes & SpendingCommercial Gambling Industry Reports Soaring Revenue as Las Vegas Sands Hopes for Texas Legalization

The State of Texas has a constitutional prohibition on most forms of gambling, including commercial casinos.
April 18, 2022
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The gambling industry is roaring back from the COVID-19 pandemic as it broke its revenue record last year and is already exceeding it again this year. Gambling operations including commercial casinos received more revenue from gambling in February than they ever have, according to data published earlier this month by the American Gaming Association (AGA).

January and February saw $8.96 billion in revenue for commercial gambling, which is an increase of 20 percent from the same time in 2020. Those were the last two months before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the AGA reported that the industry received a record $53 billion in revenue, increasing 21 percent from the $43.65 billion reported in 2019.

AGA President and CEO Bill Miller called the revenue numbers for last year “nothing short of remarkable.”

“The success of 2021 reflects our commitment to health and safety and how Americans have welcomed gaming’s expansion across the country. Today’s industry is effectively meeting customers how and where they want to engage—whether at a casino or through mobile gaming,” Miller said in a press release in February.

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Forms of gambling such as traditional slot machines and table games were the lion’s share of the industry’s revenue, bringing in $44.94 billion in 2021, an increase of 6 percent from 2019, per the AGA.

The association explained that 33 states and the District of Columbia have operational commercial casinos. Twenty-three of those jurisdictions set “individual records for full-year commercial gaming revenue” last year.

Several states have legalized commercial gambling since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the AGA, there were only 27 operational markets in February 2020.

Texas is among the minority of states that do not have an operational commercial gambling market. The Lone Star State has a constitutional provision prohibiting most forms of gambling, with prominent exceptions such as the Texas Lottery and charitable raffles for licensed organizations.

Though the Texas legislature showed some interest during the last regular session in lifting the state’s casino ban, no proposals to do so made it out of committee.

Las Vegas Sands Corporation, by way of a new political action committee funded by majority shareholder Dr. Miriam Adelson, is preparing to lobby in favor of gambling at the Capitol next year. Adelson made an initial contribution of $2.3 million to the PAC, which donated more than half of a million dollars to Texas candidates before the primary election.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a 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."