Mark Cuban and the Adelson family push for Texas gambling

Mark Cuban has said he wants to build a casino resort in the Dallas area. Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a longtime proponent of sports betting, has bigger dreams for gambling in Texas. In 2022, Cuban publicly floated an idea of partnering with the Las Vegas Sands organization to build a casino resort in the Dallas area that included a sports arena.

On Wednesday, the Adelson and Dumont families, who own Las Vegas Sands, confirmed they're in a binding purchase agreement to acquire a majority ownership stake in the Mavericks, putting Cuban in direct partnership with the casino empire. In the deal, Cuban will retain control of basketball operations.

The parties hope to receive approval from the NBA board of governors and finalize the deal by the end of 2023, according to a statement released Wednesday by Sands. The move would put another casino owner in the NBA and possibly push Texas closer to legalized sports betting and resort gambling -- a move state lawmakers have so far opposed.

In May, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick posted on social media that there is "little to no support for expanding gaming from Senate GOP."

Thirty-seven states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have launched legal betting markets in the past five years. Texas and California, the most populous states, however, have not joined the sports betting boom yet. But Texans are still finding ways to bet. According to estimates by gambling research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, Texans bet $6.23 billion annually on sports, but, without legal options, use local bookies or online sportsbooks located offshore in an untaxed environment.

"While each state, including Texas, gets to decide which gaming offerings are right for its citizens, we do know there is a rampant illegal market and legalization is a path to protecting consumers, providing oversight, and generating tax revenue," Cait DeBaun, vice president of strategic communications for the American Gaming Association, said in a statement to ESPN.

The Adelsons have already made their political influence and deep pockets felt in Texas, and the Mavericks will give them more clout. Here's a look at the state of sports betting and casino gambling in Texas, and how Cuban and the Adelson family have sought to influence it.

What is the status of legalized sports betting and casino gambling in Texas?

Regulated sports betting is banned in Texas, and casino gambling is limited to three tribal casinos. The state does have a lottery, but while most states have moved forward with casinos and sports betting, Texas has fought hard against the expansion of gambling. Multiple lobbying coalitions are seeking change but have faced strong resistance from lawmakers mostly backed by Christian organizations.

An expansion of legalized gambling in Texas requires a constitutional amendment and would need approval from a two-thirds majority vote in both the State House and Senate in order to be put on the ballot for voters to decide.

The Sports Betting Alliance -- a collection of the largest online betting companies in the U.S., major professional sports leagues and Texas pro sports franchises -- backed a bill in February to legalize only online sports betting across the state. The bill passed through the State House, a major achievement for gambling legislation in Texas, but died in the Senate.

At the same time, the Adelson family has spent millions of dollars supporting a separate lobbying effort on a different bill to bring resort-style casino gambling and sports betting to the state. In 2022, Miriam Adelson -- the wife of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who died in 2021 -- also reportedly donated $1 million to Gov. Greg Abbott's campaign. Abbott has historically opposed gambling, but his office said last year he would be open to a "very professional entertainment option." The Sands-supported bill failed to gain much traction in 2023 and did not make it as far as the effort to legalize sports betting exclusively.

The Texas legislature, which meets only every two years, does not meet in 2024 but new bills to legalize online sports betting on its own or in combination with casino gaming are expected in 2025. Both the Texas State House and Senate would need to agree on a resolution to put sports betting on the ballot for voters to decide in November 2025.

What has Cuban said publicly about gambling?

Cuban was one of the very first American professional sports team owners to advocate for a new approach to betting in the NBA and the U.S. In 2014, Cuban said he "[agreed] 100%" with NBA commissioner Adam Silver's New York Times op-ed calling for the U.S. Congress to reexamine the country's laws on sports betting.

"I just think that Adam did the exact right thing," Cuban said roughly a week after Silver's op-ed was published. "I think by focusing on the federal regulations and making the changes there, that it will change. It's just a question of when."

Four years later, on May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, the federal statute that had restricted regulated sports betting to primarily Nevada.

Sports betting is only one piece -- and relatively a small one -- of the gambling pie in Texas, the state with the second-largest population in the U.S.

Cuban has been clear in recent interviews that his ultimate goal is to build casino resorts in Texas.

"My goal, and we'd partner with Sands, is when we build a new arena it'll be in the middle of a resort and casino. That's the mission," Cuban told the Dallas Morning News in December 2022.

He continued: "Texas is such an amazing state that we need to be a destination. And this is the way to do it. And partnering with the Sands Corporation, literally there's no reason why we can't build a huge resort destination in the city proper of Dallas. There's plenty of places to do it."

What is the NBA's view on gambling?

The NBA was the first major professional sports league in the U.S. to come out in support of bringing sports betting into a regulated environment. The NBA also was the first major U.S. league to sign up with an official sports betting partner in BetMGM (later adding both DraftKings and FanDuel, among other sportsbooks). Four NBA arenas -- Capital One Arena in Washington, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Footprint Center in Phoenix and United Center in Chicago -- have opened retail sportsbooks or sportsbook lounges.

Do other casino owners own teams?

Yes, including in Texas. In 2017, Tilman Fertitta, a casino owner in Nevada and Louisiana, purchased the Houston Rockets. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert had a stake in the operator of both of Cleveland's casinos, before selling his shares in JACK Entertainment in 2020. Owners in other sports leagues also have varying financial interests in casinos or sports betting operators. For example, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones were early investors in DraftKings.