88th LegislatureIssuesTaxes & SpendingPatrick Says Virtually No Senate Republicans Support Casinos, Sports Betting

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he will not let Democrats “run the Senate,” and he wants to see at least 15 to 16 Republicans in support before proceeding.
March 24, 2023
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a media interview that there is virtually no support for expanding gambling among Republicans in the Texas Senate.

Patrick made the comments Thursday evening in an interview on the Chad Hasty Show. He said a constitutional amendment to bring casinos and sports wagering to Texas would require a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

The comments are similar to ones Patrick made before the beginning of the 88th Legislative Session.

The lieutenant governor said Democrats in both chambers would unify behind casinos and sports betting. With 12 Democrats and 19 Republicans in the Senate, that means the measure could pass without the majority of the GOP caucus.

“I’m not letting the Democrats run the Senate, because if you have more Democrats voting for a bill than Republicans … that means the Democrats are running the show,” Patrick said. “People didn’t elect me to let the Democrats decide what we do. We would need 15 to 16 votes out of our 19 (Republican members) for me to even think of it.”

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Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) filed a casino and sports betting bill in November, and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) filed a sports betting bill near the beginning of the session. Patrick added there “may be two or three” votes in the Senate Republican caucus for sports betting, but there are “no votes” for casinos.

The House certainly seems more amenable to gambling expansion than the Senate. Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) said he’d be open to “high-quality” casinos, and the House State Affairs Committee heard testimony from heavy-hitting gambling proponents this week such as Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) presented a sports betting bill, one that Patrick specifically addressed in his interview.

“Jeff is a good man and a good friend. He can do what he wants in the House, but we don’t have the votes in the Senate as we sit here today,” Patrick remarked.

Phelan’s office declined to comment on the prospects of gambling expansion in light of Patrick’s comments.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s staff said in October that Abbott is open to considering “very professional” casinos in the Lone Star State.


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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."