After mainly remaining on the sidelines ahead of the primary, casino companies seeking to turn Texas into a piggy bank are spending big to back the current House Speaker and his allies.

Chief among these out-of-state interlopers is Las Vegas Sands, giving through its “Texas” Sands PAC. The largest beneficiary of Sands’ money in the latest filing period is embattled House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont).

The casino outfit gave $200,000 to the Speaker, his second-largest donation in the latest filing period. Another gambling behemoth, Penn Entertainment Inc., gave Phelan $20,000. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma donated $10,000.

Gambling special interests have long targeted Texas but have been rebuffed for decades following failed promises of the Texas Lottery. During the 2023 legislative session, the Texas House advanced gambling measures that the Texas Senate ignored.

In this latest period, Sands gave $1.8 million to Texas politicians. This money went exclusively to members of the Texas House, with Republicans taking $1.34 million and Democrats $457,500. This is potentially a preview of a deluge of money that big gambling may spend in the lead-up to the 2025 legislative session.

State Rep. John Kuempel (R-Seguin), a key proponent of growing the gambling footprint in Texas, received the second-highest total from Sands at $110,000. Like Phelan, Keumpel finds himself up against a field of challengers, including Alan Schoolcraft who enjoys the endorsement of Gov. Greg Abbott and heavy financial backing.

It’s typical for lobbies advancing controversial policies to hold back donations to shield candidates from attacks leading up to elections. Disclosure of Sands giving comes halfway through early voting and a week before election day.

A week out from the primary election, President Donald Trump called anyone supporting the candidacy of Phelan “foolish” in a Truth Social post.

Early voting is ongoing and ends March 1. Election day is March 5.

A complete list of Sands’ donations is included below.

DadePhelan (I)Y$200,000.00RHouse21
JohnKuempel (I)Y$110,000.00RHouse44
LaceyHull (I)Y$79,000.00RHouse138
RichardHayes (I)N$79,000.00RHouse57
HughShine (I)Y$79,000.00RHouse55
StephenAllison (I)Y$79,000.00RHouse121
HaroldDutton (I)Y$79,000.00DHouse142
JustinHolland (I)Y$79,000.00RHouse33
CharlesGeren (I)Y$60,000.00RHouse99
RonaldReynolds (I)Y$55,000.00DHouse27
JamesTalarico (I)Y$54,500.00DHouse50
ElizabethCampos (I)Y$54,000.00DHouse119
StanKitzman (I)Y$54,000.00RHouse85
Raynaldo T.Lopez (I)Y$54,000.00DHouse125
Venton C.Jones (I)Y$54,000.00DHouse100
Alma A.Allen (I)Y$54,000.00DHouse131
Erin A.Zwiener (I)Y$54,000.00DHouse45
Travis P.Clardy (I)Y$54,000.00RHouse11
Ernest J.Bailes (I)Y$54,000.00RHouse18
Frederick E.Frazier (I)Y$54,000.00RHouse61
Jacey R.Jetton (I)Y$54,000.00RHouse26
Shawn NicoleThierry (I)Y$50,000.00DHouse146
Kenneth P.King (I)Y$30,500.00RHouse88
JayDean (I)Y$29,500.00RHouse7
Angie C.Button (I)Y$29,000.00RHouse112
Morgan D.Meyer (I)Y$29,000.00RHouse108
Cody J.Harris (I)Y$29,000.00RHouse8
Benjamin CBumgarner (I)Y$29,000.00RHouse63
Standard D.Lambert (I)Y$29,000.00RHouse71
DrewDarby (I)Y$29,000.00RHouse72
Jeff C.Leach (I)Y$15,000.00RHouse67
Dustin R.Burrows (I)Y$5,500.00RHouse83
JarvisJohnson (I)Y$4,000.00DHouse139
Daniel Greer

Daniel Greer is the Director of Innovation for Texas Scorecard.