(Bloomberg) -- As Game 3 of the NBA Finals tipped off at the American Airlines Center on Wednesday, Patrick Dumont, the new co-owner of the Dallas Mavericks, sat courtside amid a pantheon of Texas athletic elite.

To his right: former NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, and three-time Super Bowl champion Emmitt Smith. Nearby, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who played high school and college football in Texas, was also cheering.

Dumont, the president of gambling giant Las Vegas Sands Corp. — and son-in-law of billionaire Miriam Adelson — bought a majority stake in the Mavs with his family late last year from Mark Cuban. The deal valued the franchise at $3.5 billion. Since then, he’s been a regular at the games and is warmly acclimating to his new home away from home. 

“I don’t think there are many cities in America where you can show up and everyone’s just warm and embracing,” Dumont said at the team’s practice facility ahead of Game 4 against the Boston Celtics, who have dominated the series and pushed Dallas to the brink of elimination. The Mavs ended up winning, 122-84, though no NBA team has ever come back from a 0-3 playoff deficit. “There’s a lot of pride about being a Texan, and it’s just a lot of fun to be part of.” 

The purchase of the Mavs punctuated the family’s effort to deepen its ties in the state, including Sands’ desire to build casino resorts that will draw dollars and jobs to Texas. But in a state that has resisted efforts for gambling for years, Dumont said he and his family are ready to play the long game.

“We really want to be in the state of Texas,” the 49-year-old said, referring to LVS and casino gambling. “We think this is a great investment opportunity and we’re here for the long term. We’re going to keep talking about the virtues of what this means for the state of Texas and how it can benefit the communities that these resorts will be located in.”

In the meantime, the business of basketball is flourishing and Dallas is in the midst of a professional sports renaissance. The Texas Rangers won baseball’s World Series last year. The Dallas Stars made it to the NHL’s Western Conference Finals. And the Mavs exceeded the expectations of many basketball pundits. The city was on the short list to host the World Cup Final in 2026, and will host the most matches. 

The NBA is close to signing new long-term broadcasting agreements that would pay the league about $76 billion over 11 years — three times its current deal. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said before the Finals that the league will turn to expansion, possibly overseas, after it completes the new TV rights negotiations. Las Vegas and Seattle are both looked at as favorites for new NBA franchises. Mexico City is also a contender. The WNBA has seen a surge of interest after Caitlin Clark joined the league.

“The NBA is a multifaceted business,” Dumont said, sitting in the team’s “Real MVP Conference Room,” where research for the upcoming NBA draft had to be covered for secrecy. “It’s a media business, a hospitality business and a culinary business. It’s all about experience. Those are the types of things we do well and think we can bring to the city of Dallas.”

All that makes owning a team in one of the fastest-growing regions in the US more compelling. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is building a new campus that will house about 5,000 employees in Dallas. BlackRock Inc. and Citadel Securities are among investors backing an upstart Texas stock exchange. The Dallas-Fort Worth area now has more finance workers than Chicago or Los Angeles, trailing only New York.

“The state’s growing for a reason,” he said. “There’s good schools. There’s good communities. People are working hard. A lot of companies are trying to move here now because they realize that not every state is run this way.”

Behind the scenes, the Adelson family is already laying the groundwork to face an immense political challenge to legalize gambling in Texas. The family recruited an army of lobbyists and ramped up its political spending. Since 2022, Adelson has poured $16.5 million into Texas campaigns and political action committees, Texas Ethics Commission records show. 

That level of spending shouldn’t be at risk given Adelson’s deep pockets. With a net worth of $33.1 billion, the 78-year-old widow of Sands founder Sheldon Adelson is one of the 50 richest people on Earth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

This year, the Texas Legislature voted down bills that would have legalized online and casino gambling. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who controls legislation in the state senate, has said he won’t bring a vote to the floor unless it has Republican support.

There are some early signs that the political tides are shifting. About 75% of Texans support legislation to bring casino-style resorts to Texas, according to a January 2023 poll by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. And a Republican-backed bill proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing casino gambling at destination resorts made it out of a house committee last year – a first for Texas. 

Governor Greg Abbott, who got $1 million in campaign contributions from Adelson in 2022, has also signaled openness on casinos.

“The question is how to do it in a way that’s right for Texas,” Dumont said. “How do you deal with sports wagering? How do you deal with gaming? How do you ensure that you get the tourism benefit? That’s really what the discussion is about.”

For now, Dumont and his family have the support of other Texas tycoons.

Billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets and the Golden Nugget casinos, has spent years advocating for Texas to join dozens of other states in allowing Las Vegas-style casino resorts, arguing they’d spur job growth and bring in more tourist dollars to restaurants, stores and hotels. 

“Let’s do something to bring tourism and the business traveler and conventions to Texas — and these need to be billion-dollar properties that do that,” he said in an interview in February. “We need to do it right and build the casinos, and not have a bunch of slot machines at every single little grocery store.” 

Cuban, who still owns a minority stake in the Mavs and provides advice on the team, has talked up the potential for real estate developments anchored by a casino and an arena. 

“When you think of all the places you want to save up to vacation, Texas isn’t one of them,” Cuban told the Dallas Morning News around the time of the sale to the Adelson clan. “There’s no real destination that you save up for. That’s a problem and I think resort gaming would have a huge impact.”

There’s still plenty of opposition. Rob Kohler, a lobbyist for the Christian Life Commission, the public policy arm of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, has been fighting against gambling in the state for more than two decades.

“There has been much ado about how much the Adelsons have spent,” he said in an interview. “But they aren’t the first rich people that have tried to expand gambling. If this is about the amount of money that is spent, Texas would have an expansion of gambling long ago.”

For now, Dumont says he’s focused on helping the team win. 

“I have responsibility to ensure the success of the team,” he said. “I can’t give you a road map of exactly what that will mean, but my goal is to be present and to help the Mavericks be successful in the championships.”

(Updates with additional playoff detail in fourth paragraph. An earlier version corrected a geographic comparison of finance workers.)

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