Amid efforts to expand options in the state

Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks sale to Adelson family could ignite push for Texas gambling legalization

Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner
Reading time 2:40 min

Mark Cuban's sale of majority ownership in the Dallas Mavericks to Miriam Adelson could catalyze a fresh push to sway Texas lawmakers towards supporting legislation for legalizing sports betting and casino-style gambling in the state.

The deal aligns with Cuban's earlier pursuit of forming a partnership with the Las Vegas Sands organization to develop a casino resort in the Dallas area, including a sports arena, ESPN reported.

On Wednesday, the Adelson and Dumont families, owners of Las Vegas Sands, announced a binding purchase agreement to acquire a majority ownership stake in the Mavericks. Under this arrangement, Cuban will maintain control of basketball operations.

The parties aim to secure approval from the NBA board of governors and finalize the deal by the end of 2023, ushering in another casino owner in the NBA and potentially influencing Texas' stance on legalized sports betting and resort gambling, which state lawmakers have resisted thus far.

Despite Texans currently betting approximately $6.23 billion annually on sports, the state prohibits regulated sports betting, meaning dollars go to offshore bookies, while limited casino gambling is confined to three tribal casinos.

Various lobbying coalitions have attempted to bring about change, facing resistance from lawmakers predominantly supported by Christian organizations. Any expansion of legalized gambling in Texas necessitates a constitutional amendment, demanding approval from a two-thirds majority vote in both the State House and Senate.

Efforts to legalize online sports betting in Texas gained momentum in the State House but failed in the Senate in the last session. Simultaneously, the Adelson family supported a separate lobbying effort for a bill introducing resort-style casino gambling and sports betting in the state, without significant progress in 2023. The Texas legislature, convening every two years, anticipates new bills addressing online sports betting or a combination with casino gaming in 2025.

Cuban, an early advocate for a new approach to betting in the NBA and the U.S., has expressed a long-term goal to establish casino resorts in Texas. The NBA, the first major U.S. professional sports league supporting regulated sports betting, has already partnered with sports betting operators.

“My goal, and we’d partner with Las Vegas Sands, is when we build a new arena, it’ll be in the middle of a resort and casino. That’s the mission,” Cuban was quoted as saying in a Forbes article.

Adelson and Las Vegas Sands, alongside other stakeholders, actively worked to garner backing in Austin for the passage of legislation sanctioning gambling and endorsing the development of casino resorts in key Texas urban centers. According to Bloomberg, the Las Vegas Sands political action committee, fueled by Adelson's contributions, provided over $2 million to political campaigns in the state in 2022.

Their endeavors and financial investments have made notable progress within the legislative arena and have found support among influential Texas figures. Proposals advocating for the legalization of gambling have garnered some bipartisan backing, an unusual occurrence in contemporary Texas politics, the Forbes report said. Both Governor Greg Abbott, who received a $1 million donation from Adelson in 2022, and House Speaker Dade Phelan have indicated a readiness to explore legislation that would facilitate the establishment of operating casinos.

As per a report on CNBC, Adelson could reap significant gains if the bets on securing casino licenses in both New York and Texas prove successful. The Adelson family is poised to retain ownership of over 50% of Las Vegas Sands stock. Even if the Texas venture doesn't involve gambling operations, there remains a considerable opportunity for the Adelsons to profit from their investment in the Mavericks.

"It's a highly astute family, and investments in sports assets have demonstrated strong performance," remarked Jason Ader, former Las Vegas Sands board member and head of SpringOwl Asset Management, as reported by Forbes. "NBA teams represent premier assets with a high likelihood of continued appreciation."

Cuban's move aligns with a broader trend, as other NBA team owners, such as Tilman Fertitta and Dan Gilbert, have also ventured into the casino or sports betting industry.

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