The people will not have a say on Texas sports betting in 2023 after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had his.
Patrick tweeted Saturday afternoon that HB 1942 will not receive consideration in the state Senate. The lieutenant governor serves as the president of the Senate in Texas, giving Patrick power beyond what exists for non-voting members of a chamber in most other states.
It appears Patrick will exercise that power to decide the fate of TX sports betting rather than allowing voters to choose. That means legal sportsbooks in Texas will not become reality until 2025 at the earliest.
House approved Texas sports betting
The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to place the question of legalizing TX sports betting on the ballot in November. Creating a legal sports betting market in Texas requires changing the state constitution, necessitating a two-thirds majority in both houses and at the ballot box.
HJR 102, the resolution creating a ballot question, received 101 of a possible 150 ‘yes’ votes in the Republican-controlled House. HB 1942, the enabling legislation for Texas sportsbooks, garnered 82 ayes. That bill needed only a simple majority.
That level of bipartisan consensus, however, failed to sway Patrick. The lieutenant governor claimed to have taken the pulse of Senators before issuing his Twitter decree Saturday:
Examining Patrick’s math on Texas sportsbooks
Patrick declaring a need for “overwhelming GOP support” could be read practically, politically, or potentially both.
In practical terms, TX sports betting legislation would need 21 of 31 possible votes to pass the Senate. Republicans control 19 seats, or 61%, in the Seante and 86 seats, or 57%, in the House. Republican Jeff Leach carried the bill in the House.
In political terms, Patrick’s tweet could provide cover for senators who might not want to take a position on legalizing sports betting in Texas. Establishing a standard of “overwhelming GOP support” creates pretext to avert a potentially uncomfortable vote for his members.
TX sports betting bill details
Initially, Texas sports betting legislation featured a 10% tax on gross sports betting revenue. That rate jumped to 15% via an amendment during House voting Wednesday night.
Representatives also approved a change allowing sportsbooks to deduct promotional costs during their first year of legal operation.
TX sportsbooks would be licensed through professional sports teams. The owners of the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Stars spoke earlier this year in support of the legislation.
Because the Texas legislature only meets every two years, the earliest chance for proponents to take another shot at legalizing sportsbooks appears to be 2025.