How Mark Cuban's sale of the Dallas Mavericks could open Texas to legal casino gambling

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AUSTIN — When word spread that billionaire Mark Cuban was selling the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and quitting his television gig on "Shark Tank" it spark a flurry of speculation that the 65-year-old entrepreneur would run for president next year as an independent.

That speculation cooled a bit after Cuban later told NBC News he had "no plans" to trade the elbow-throwing on the basketball court for the pushing and shoving of the political arena. The wording did leave a little wiggle room for mind-changing. But he then he slammed the door, telling Axios that he'd never-ever-ever run for public office.

Despite slamming the door on a 2024 run for president, Cuban has opening flirted with the idea in the past, but not within the structure of the two-party system, which he as called "so messed up."

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban walks off the court after the Mavericks victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at the American Airlines Center on Nov 12, 2022.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban walks off the court after the Mavericks victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at the American Airlines Center on Nov 12, 2022.

But despite all of that, the gambling website, SportsBetting.ag, put the odds at Cuban running at 80-1, down considerably from the 250-1 gap just one day before that Mavericks' sale surfaced.

The site also went so far as to offer bookies some guidelines if they were planning to take wagers on who Cuban might select as a running mate. The top bets were Republican U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and his Democratic colleague Joe Manchin of West Virginia with 3-1 odds.

More: Mark Cuban planning to leave ABC's 'Shark Tank' after more than a decade

Perhaps the betting website should have looked a little closer to home when it was looking at what the future holds after all of the paperwork is filed on the Mavs' sale, which is worth as much $3.5 billion, according to The Associated Press. The buyers are Adelson and Dumont families of Nevada, and they happen to own the Las Vegas Sands, one of the nation's premier hotel and casino destinations.

And even before the sale was on the table, Cuban was reportedly contemplating a partnership with Sands in 2022 for a hotel and casino in Dallas. But one of the roadblocks was that casino gambling is not exactly legal in Texas.

And during the regular session of the Legislature this year, the Sands employed scores of some of the Texas' best-known, and best paid, lobbyists in what turned out to be yet another failed effort to bring gambling to Texas.

In fact, the list of lobbyists registered to represents the Sand take up a full five pages on the Texas Ethics Commission's website.

More: Why serving in the 2023 Legislature is the most time-consuming part-time job in Texas

And Cuban was also part of the fight to expand the footprint of gambling in Texas beyond the state-run lottery and state-regulated horse- and dog-racetracks. The Mavericks, along with the other professional sports franchises in Texas, backed the effort to allow sports betting.

Gov. Greg Abbott signaled early on that the matter would not necessarily have been dead on arrival if a bill had made its way through the House and Senate. He called sports betting "really just a form of entertainment." But the legislation stalled in the Senate where its presiding officer, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, kept it bottled up.

With the owners of the Sands expanding their empire into Texas, it would appear that the odds of legalized casinos will be better in in 2025 than they were in 2023, and likely better than ever.

John C. Moritz covers Texas government and politics for the USA Today Network in Austin. Contact him at jmoritz@gannett.com and follow him on X, formerly called Twitter, @JohnnieMo.

This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Did Mark Cuban give the effort to bring casinos to Texas a big lift?