Research out of the University of Houston indicates a large number of Texans would support the gambling expansion put forth in Sen. Carol Alvarado’s proposed legislation.
The bill would put the question of casinos in major cities and the legalization of sports betting on the next ballot.
The Hobby School for Public Affairs at the University of Houston polled 1,200 people in a sampling representative of the state’s population to see how the public is responding to the idea.
According to the findings, Texas residents are very much on board with gambling expansion in the state. An impressive 75% of the people polled supported the idea, with 41% “strongly” supporting it. The Black population surveyed was the most responsive, with 83% support, followed by support from Latinos (77%), and support from the white community (73%).
The survey also indicated bipartisan support, with the support of 80% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans.
Interestingly, one of the groups least supportive of the idea was Generation Z, with 69% support. By comparison, Millennials were 80% on board with the idea.
Many lawmakers point to religious opposition to gambling hampering past efforts in the state. That bore out to some degree in the findings, with 61% of self-identified evangelicals supporting the idea.
None of the demographic groups polled had a majority in opposition to gambling expansion, but suburban groups and older Texans were the closest to split on the issue.
The survey also polled people on the idea of legalizing sports betting without the addition of brick-and-mortar casinos. The results were similar.
While the research indicates that, were Alvarado’s proposition or some version of it to make the ballot it would receive support, the real battle at hand right now is getting lawmakers on board with the idea.
Gov. Greg Abbott and others have hinted they are open to the idea of casinos in the state. However, the most difficult obstacle for the casino bill is getting attention and support in Austin, particularly in the Senate. There has been no movement on the bill since it was prefiled back in November. The 2023 legislative session began on Jan, 10 and runs through May 29.