It may be a long shot to pass this year, but supporters of the online Texas sports betting bill are giving it a go anyway.
Last week, the state’s professional teams sent a letter to legislative leadership urging dual-chamber passage, which would enable a Nov. 7 public vote on online Texas sports betting at the ballot box.
On Monday, sponsor Rep. Jeff Leach told KDFW-TV that he was optimistic the bill could pass through the House.
Nevertheless, it faces long odds to move in the Senate.
Texas sports betting letter details
The letter was addressed to House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, on behalf of 11 professional sports teams via the Texas Sports Betting Alliance.
It read, in-part, as obtained by LSR:
Ultimately, these bills protect Texans from the illegal, foreign sports betting market that is operating unregulated in Texas. These bills provide a fair and responsible system of permitting and taxation for operators and the proposed legislation has best practices from other states that will maintain the integrity of Texas professional sports.
On belief of our franchises, staff members, communities, and fans we ask you allow Texans the opportunity to vote for or against regulated sports betting in Texas.
Texas sports betting benefits teams
The 11 sports teams who signed it include:
- Dallas Cowboys
- Houston Texans
- Houston Astros
- Texas Rangers
- Dallas Mavericks
- Houston Rockets
- San Antonio Sports
- Dallas Stars
- Austin FC
- FC Dallas
- Houston Dynamo
Each team would also stand to benefit financially from the legalization of Texas sports betting.
As per the bill language, online sports betting operators would have to pay the sports franchises licensing fees for market access.
Each team would have one license.
Bigger push needed
One industry source opined to LSR that legislative pressure needs to come from key stakeholders like Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta or Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
“I would’ve thought the sports teams could’ve gotten Patrick to where they needed him to be, or at least kept him quiet until the House passed the bill,” the source said.
Leach high on Texas sports betting
Leach spoke highly of the sports betting bill.
“The bill is in a good spot,” he told KDFW-TV. “We’re building support every single day from legislators here and from Texans across the state. I think we’re going to be able to get it up, get it across the finish line in the House.”
Yet Patrick, arguably the biggest stumbling block given his anti-gambling stance, has repeatedly said there are not enough votes in the Senate.
Rep. also not bothered by Patrick comments
Any gaming legislation would change the Texas state constitution, thereby necessitating a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House.
“ … My job is to pass a bill through the House and to get it over to the Senate. I trust my Senate, my Senate author over there, Lois Kolkhorst, who’s well respected, very smart. We’re working very hard on this,” Leach told the news station.
Regardless, getting the bill passed in the House would be considered a significant victory this cycle, according to some in the industry.