Shark Tank Star Mark Cuban Wants you to Bet on Texas


Shark Tank star Mark Cuban endorses legalized gambling in Texas

If you want to gamble in Texas, it’s doable. It’s just not legal, at least not exactly. Under-the-counter bookies are plenty easy to find. I remember hearing about one who drove around in a Cadillac with longhorns on the hood.

Poker clubs, which are said to operate in a gray area, thrive in Houston and Dallas. If you want to play craps or blackjack, you can either drive to nearby Oklahoma or Louisiana or chance it at a totally illegal joint and hope for the best (generally ill advised).

Even the quasi-legal card rooms can be dicey. This past April at Legends, in Houston, a nutty gunman fired bullets into the place from outside. Play stopped and gamblers hid under the poker tables.

Two months later, at Texas Card House, a security guard got into it with armed robbers who are said to have initiated a “gun battle.” Never mind that Texas is a place where one of the world’s most popular poker variants – Texas hold’em – earned its name.

Or that Benny Binion cut his teeth running gambling joints in the Lone Star State and bought his downtown Las Vegas property, which became Binion’s Horseshoe, with a suitcase full of dirty money. Or that some of the world’s classic gamblers, including Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson and Amarillo Slim Preston, filtered north to Vegas from Texas and loved the state so much that it was proudly referenced in their names.

Mark Cuban, most famous as a regular on “Shark Tank” and, until recently, outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks, an NBA team that he sold to Miriam Adelson (a physician whose late husband Sheldon was the guy behind the Venetian casino), is putting on a big push for gambling in all its forms to be completely legalized in Texas.

Considering that the state is a place where you gamble with your life anytime you leave your house and go into a restaurant where people are free to carry concealed handguns, this will be a step in the right direction. As far as gambling in Texas goes, Cuban and others have good arguments and the dough to make it happen.

Last year, Cuban (who remains in an executive position with the Mavs) vowed that “when we build a new arena, it will be in the middle of a resort and a casino.” Tilman Fertitta, a billionaire who owns the Golden Nugget Casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, donated $700,000 to the election campaigns of politicians who have open minds about gambling.

Adelson is not just the owner of a professional sports team. She is said to have been actively lobbying state legislators to loosen up the anti-gambling laws. It’s believed that her ownership of the Mavericks – which, like all sports franchises, will benefit from legalized sports betting in Texas – can lead to a tipping point.

Ultimately, it may come down to the dollars and cents that no “Shark Tank” regular can bear to lose. As put to the Dallas Morning News, by Alan Feldman, a Vegas-based gambling industry veteran, “I have to believe that the political leadership has got to be a little tired of looking at all the tail-lights leaving Texas.”

At some point, though, locals will have to learn to bring their cash and leave their guns at home.

Michael Kaplan

Michael Kaplan is a journalist based in New York City joined Techopedia in November 2023. He is the author of five books ("The Advantage Players" comes out in 2024) and has worked for publications that include Wired, GQ and the New York Post. He has written extensively on technology, gambling and business — with a particular interest in spots where all three intersect. His article on Kelly "Baccarat Machine" Sun and Phil Ivey is in development as a feature film.