Dallas Mavericks

NBA Finals and millions in GOP donations mark first year of new Mavs owners

Miriam Adelson and Patrick Dumont took over the majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks

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Miriam Adelson came to the rescue of a major Texas politician caught in a tough reelection fight earlier this Spring.

It was part of a larger plan to support allies in expanding casino gaming in Texas. Millions of dollars in donations, a recently launched group, and the purchase of an iconic Texas sports team have positioned the Adelson and Dumont families to have sway next year in the state capitol.

This week, the Dallas Mavericks continue to play for the NBA championship against the Boston Celtics. A successful professional sports team alone can give lawmakers sway and access.

The families will also bring political donations and profits from their Las Vegas Sands casinos. Miriam's late husband, Sheldon Adelson, was one of the most well-known Republican political donors in the country. It's a legacy Miriam intends to continue.

One of the most powerful people in the Texas government, Speaker of the House Dade Phelan, R—Beaumont, survived an intense primary runoff by less than 400 votes. Phelan and his coalition are in an ongoing fight with ultra-conservative members within his Republican caucus, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whom they tried to remove from office through the impeachment process, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, the presiding officer of the Texas Senate.

"When you have a bottomless pool of money, you want to support everyone who you know you have a chance to talk to, and the only people you don’t support are the ones who are never going to go with you," said SMU political science professor Cal Jillson.

Two Adelson groups, Texas Defense PAC and Texas Sands PAC, threw nearly $4 million behind Phelan and their allies in the legislature to defend against challengers backed by Patrick, Paxton, and a group of conservative oil billionaires from West Texas.

Texas Defense PAC also backed Representatives Frederick Frazier, R - McKinney, Justin Holland, R - Rockwall, Kronda Thimesch, R - Lewisville, and John Kuempel, R - Seguin, who lost to challengers in the primary of the runoffs.

“Their long-term commitment to the Mavericks and building off the Mavericks and casino gambling is going to put them at the heart of the business community in Texas. They’ll be wheel horses in the Texas Association of Business down the road," said Jillson.

The groups also supported Senator Nathan Johnson, a Dallas Democrat, and Rep. Jarvis Johnson, who lost his Democratic primary in Houston.

The newly launched Texas Destination Resort Alliance will advocate statewide for the effort. Their website and video state they're backed by money from the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

Dallas Mavericks governor and majority shareholder Patrick Dumont, told reporters Dallas is a major business center and when Las Vegas Sands decided to buy the team they thought about Dallas as a great market to invest in and hope to bring business and leisure tourism here.

To bring casino gaming to Texas, two-thirds of the legislature must approve the idea, and then Texas voters must sign off in a statewide election. The new Sands-backed coalition argues resort casinos will create thousands of jobs in the state and help bring billions in illegal betting out of the shadows.

According to data from the Texas Ethics Commission cited by the Dallas Morning News, The Sands tapped more than one hundred lobbyists this past year in the Texas legislature.

Expanding gambling has had a tough go in the Texas legislature, but the idea went further than ever last year. A sports betting bill passed the Texas House but died in the Senate, and a casino bill had a floor vote in the lower chamber but did not pass.

Plans for expanding gaming accelerated after the U.S. Supreme Court removed a ban on sports gambling across the country. Mark Cuban, still the minority owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has pushed for a casino resort attached to a new arena for a while now.

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