Texas Sports Betting Bills Get First Welcome In House Committee

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Texas sports betting

A pair of online Texas sports betting bills were left pending Wednesday, following a committee hearing in the House of Representatives

Concerns were raised surrounding the proposed tax rate (10%), state licensing fee ($500,000), and lack of tribal inclusion (Kickapoo Tribe.) 

It is unclear if or when the pieces of TX sports betting legislation will be voted on. 

Sponsor: Let Texas voters decide

Bill sponsor Rep. Jeff Leach is hoping to get HB1942 and HJR102 in front of Texas voters on Nov. 7

In his concluding remarks, Leach said he was amenable to continuing conversations surrounding the three main issues raised. 

“I would ask for your favorable support on this, and to allow the people of Texas to vote on this in November,” Leach said. 

Patrick: No traction in Senate

However, that cannot happen unless the bill passes in both the House and Senate by a two-thirds vote.

According to one influential politician, it appears there is no traction in the Senate

“Right now, there are no votes in the Senate,” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick told ABC 25 last week. “There’s no support I can see. There wasn’t when the session began and there’s not now with the numbers to pass a bill.”

Texas sports betting bill concerns

Rep. John Smithee raised concerns over whether the state was truly maximizing its revenue regarding the valuable licenses. The standalone sports betting legislation would allow for up to 15 online licenses. Market access would come via the state’s professional sports teams. 

“My interest is not in making professional sports franchise wealthy,” Smithee said. 

By comparison, New York has a 51% tax rate, and the state received $25 million per operator in licensing fees. 

How much are Texas sports betting licenses worth?

It is unclear how much the Texas pro teams could receive in sportsbook market-access deals if legislation runs licensure through them.

Texas comptroller Glenn Hegar, when asked by the committee, did not have information on how much a license could be worth. 

For, against Texas sports betting

Representatives from the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Astros and Houston Rockets were among those to testify in support of the bill. Multiple reps made reference to the estimated $7 billion annually that is already being wagered illegally in the state. 

The Texas Sports Betting Alliance lobbying group, which is composed of the Texas pro teams and five sportsbooks (FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Barstool, Fanatics), also gave pro-bill testimony.

Meanwhile, the Kickapoo Tribe has come out against the bill. The tribe desires an amendment that would allow tribes in the state to be included and offer TX sports betting. 

Other groups that opposed included Texas Values and the Southern Baptists

A pair of casino bills that include in-person sports betting, HJR 155 and HB 2843, were also heard Wednesday.