Gaming and Leisure Properties Chairman and CEO Peter Carlino is among the skeptics who don’t believe Texas will legalize casinos this year.
Carlino said last week that casinos in Texas would be an opportunity for all of the real estate investment trust’s gaming operators. But he isn’t counting on state lawmakers approving any such policy.
“My sense is at the moment nothing material is going to happen,” Carlino told analysts last week on Gaming and Leisure Properties’ fourth-quarter earnings conference call.
Las Vegas Sands, which has seen several company-supported gaming bills fail in the Texas Legislature in the past 10 years, has committed to spending millions of dollars to push casino legislation in the ongoing session. Texas is one of the largest states without regulated commercial casinos or legal sports betting.
Separately, Texans could also see a referendum on legalizing mobile sports betting, if it’s approved by the Legislature.
The Texas Sports Betting Alliance was formed as a coalition of professional sports teams and sports betting companies – including DraftKings and FanDuel. The group hired former Gov. Rick Perry as spokesman.
Carlino said the sports betting measure could pass a statewide vote given its backing by Texas’ major professional sports teams.
GLPI is keeping its eye on Texas, given it owns Zia Park Racetrack and Casino in Hobbs, New Mexico, which is operated by Penn Entertainment, and five casinos in Louisiana. Both states draw customers from Texas and could see an effect on one of their largest revenue streams.
“I’ve always said somewhere in my lifetime, I hope that Texas gets full gaming,” Carlino said. “But my sense is, and from what I’m hearing, that’s not likely to happen in this first round.”
Jefferies gaming analyst David Katz had a different opinion, telling investors in a research note published Sunday there was “ample support” for gaming legislation in the Texas House, but “questionable support” in the Senate. Katz noted Gov. Greg Abbott has been open to the idea of legalized gaming while anti-gaming Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has softened his position as opposed to his “historical flat rejection.”
He cautioned, however, that the odds for passage of the bills could be challenging, even with polling results showing 70 percent favoring gaming.
Carlino said Gaming and Leisure Properties will closely follow the Texas debate.
“Obviously, we want to make sure that we’re around the hoop for any state, any activity, anywhere,” he said.