The Venetian, Texas?

by , Apr 20, 2009 | 4:00 am

Sheldon Adelson

Good-ish article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier this month about Sheldon Adelson’s vocal interest in Texas. Adelson, of course, is the Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp, aka The Venetian. Of all the casino billionaires out there, he’s probably shown more than any other a (financial) commitment to poker — not only did he help build the best poker room in Vegas, but he even took a chance on The Real Deal! (Oops.)

Adelson was in Austin the other week testifying before the same Licensing and Administration Procedures Committee that voted 6-3 in favor of poker. You all know about HB 222, but there are actually four gambling-related bills pending in Texas right now:

1. Full-on Vegas-style casino-resorts — 12 of ’em!
2. Poker
3. Slot machines (VLT’s they call them) in the race tracks
4. Online Lottery

Of these four, poker is a little different, because various authorities in the state have already ruled it enough of a game of skill that it doesn’t require a constitutional amendment. Hopefully, Gov. Rick Perry will see it the same not-quite-gambling way, should we get that far, as he has promised suggested he might-well veto any gambling bills sent to his desk.

Clearly, and for obvious reason, Adelson isn’t letting any political posturing deter his efforts to make Texas more Venetian-friendly. But knowing that … man, yo, Shelly, how ’bout throwing a little scratch HB 222’s way! Think of it as a hedge …

I’m being serious. Our little poker bill has gotten as far along in the process as the casino gambling bill has, and yet it’s done so with virtually no professional lobbying money behind it. (Big ups to an almost all-grassroots effort by Texas poker lovers!) Having just a fraction of the millions being spent on full-fledged-casino politicking for a final push through the Legislature would almost certainly get us across the finish line … we know the law makes sense, and polls and comments in mainstream media reports show it has overwhelming public support.

I’m not saying we can’t do it without Big Casino money behind us, but really it would help, as at this point it’s more about properly playing the political game to shepherd this bill through the rest of the legislative process — and our opponents have spent a few hundred thousand dollars to stop that from happening … which is significantly less, actually, than the millions spent by gambling opposition to keep Texas totally casino-free.

Hey, I’m all for the full-on casino bill (also sponsored by Jose Menendez) that the likes of Adelson support. But that bill has so many more obstacles in front of it — specifically the governor’s veto pen. Our poker bill is different though … and would give Perry a chance to sign a law that represents the will of the people (to protect freedoms, protect from violence, generate tax revenues, etc. ) yet doesn’t force him to technically break his promise to veto gambling legislation.

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