A constitutional amendment that would allow voters to legalize Texas sports betting passed the House Thursday, but not without a bit of drama first.
HJR 102 was initially approved by a 100-43 vote, just hitting the 100-vote minimum needed to pass the House with a two-thirds majority. Because TX sports betting requires changing the state constitution, it must earn a supermajority.
A vote verification was quickly called for with one of the ‘yes’ votes going missing. But two members notified the chair that their voting machines malfunctioned and should be shown as ‘yes’ votes. That pushed the bill to 101 affirmative votes, enough to send the constitutional amendment to the Senate.
The resolution for TX sportsbooks will not have an easy ride to the governor, though.
Texas sports betting gained support overnight
Rep. Jeff Leach‘s resolution received 97 yes votes on a second reading Wednesday night, which seemed to catch members by surprise. Representatives were heard reacting throughout the chamber when the tally was announced.
Leach said Wednesday night he hoped he could pick up those three votes. He did that and more.
The enabling legislation from Leach, which sets the sports betting industry up to be licensed through Texas pro sports teams, lost two votes on passage Thursday. Since HB 1942 is not a constitutional amendment, though, it required just a simple majority.
The bill passed 82-51 and also heads to the Senate.
Details of Texas sports betting legislation
Sports betting in Texas would be taxed at 15%, up from the original 10% because of an amendment passed Wednesday night.
The amendment also allows operators to deduct promotional bets from gross gaming revenue for only the first year after receiving a license.
Tough sledding ahead in Senate
The constitutional amendment would let Texans decide this November if sports betting should be legal or not.
There is a major problem, however: it is not likely to pass the Senate based on what Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has said.
Patrick noted earlier in the session that there is not a lot of support in the Senate for sports betting right now. Further, he would need 15 to 16 Republicans to jump on board, “otherwise it’s a Democrat bill,” he told local media in April.