Why Mark Cuban’s sale of the Mavericks is a big deal for Texas gambling

Cuban and the new owners have pushed to legalize casinos in the state.

By Michael MarksNovember 30, 2023 3:12 pm, , ,

When Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks in 2000, they were among the most moribund teams in professional sports. 

But Cuban quickly turned them around on and off the court – often publicly battling with the National Basketball Association in the process. That certainly rubbed some people the wrong way, but you couldn’t deny that Cuban was passionate about his investment.

That’s why news that Cuban plans to sell a majority stake of the Mavericks shocked so many in the basketball world. Cuban will sell the lion’s share of the team to the Adelson family – the ultra-rich owners of the Sands Hotel and Casino, to name one of their most prominent properties. 

The Adelsons’ investment in Texas could make big waves beyond basketball, however. The Texas Standard’s Michael Marks explained what the deal might mean for gambling in the state.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: Tell us a little bit more about details of this deal.

Michael Marks: Cuban is retaining some ownership of the Mavericks, but the team will mostly belong to the Adelson and Dumont families once this deal goes through. Miriam Adelson is the wife of the late Sheldon Adelson, who died in 2021. He built an empire out of casinos, hotels, media properties; also used his money to wield considerable influence in conservative politics.

Miriam and her children are purchasing this majority stake for $3.5 billion; that was reported by the AP. They hope to finish this by the end of the year. Also involved in the deal: Patrick Dumont. He’s the president and COO of the Sands Corporation, also the Adelsons’ son-in-law.

For now, Cuban will still have the final say on basketball decisions. That’s a little unusual, but it may be temporary because in a statement released yesterday, the Adelsons made clear they had the right to govern the team. This arrangement might just be for transition purposes since we’re in the middle of the season.

Well, is it clear why Cuban sold this stake? I mean, he just the other day he was saying he was going to be leaving “Shark Tank.”

Yeah, exactly. Not yet. I imagine someone will have the opportunity to ask him that soon. But this is clearly a period of transition for Mark Cuban. You know, he’s been involved with “Shark Tank” for over 15 years.

You know, he gets to stay involved with the team this way. He also makes $3.5 billion, reportedly – so there’s a reason there. But, you know, I’m sure we’ll learn more about exactly why he did this.

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Let’s talk about some of the ripple effects here. What could we be seeing beyond the world of basketball?

Well, they could be really significant, especially when it comes to gambling policy. Casinos and sports betting are not legal in Texas, but with Cuban and the Adelsons joining forces now, what you have is two extremely deep-pocketed owners in Texas who are highly motivated to change that policy.

The Sands Corporation has already been trying to do this. They’ve spent over $10 million on lobbyists over the past two legislative sessions to try to push Texas lawmakers to legalize casinos here. Cuban has embraced gambling as much as any other owner in pro sports. He’s been a big proponent of it. He told ESPN in 2018 after the Supreme Court paved the way for states to allow sports betting, I think it doubles the value of professional sports franchises in a heartbeat, in a second.”

Cuban’s been very open about his desire to build a new arena for the Mavericks that includes a casino resort. All the money that the Adelsons and their corporations have spent on lobbying so far haven’t borne fruit. So perhaps what we may see them see happen is them getting involved in certain local elections.

They’ve done some of that already. This year, the Sands gave $250,000 to a PAC called Texans for Opportunity and Prosperity, which supports Republicans in the Texas House. A reasonable bet that more spending is on the horizon.

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