Messing With Sports Betting In Texas | Sports Betting News Today | LSR Podcast 193
Join us today on the Legal Sports Report podcast for the latest sports betting industry news and updates. The Texas House passes a sports betting resolution right before the podcast records, and the crew talks about what it could mean for the future in the Lone Star State. Plus, rumors grow of an imminent PointsBet sale, why Missouri legislators are reading biographies to avoid voting on sports betting, and how horse tracks are shaping bill discussion in Minnesota.
Matt Brown (00:08):
Hello, and welcome to episode number 193 of the LSR Podcast. My name is Matt Brown, joined each and every week by the brightest minds in all the gaming industry. With me, I have two of those, Adam Candee, Eric Ramsey. You can follow them on the Twitter machine, and you should, it’s absolutely free. Adam Candee, two E’s, no Y, Eric Ramsey over there on the Twitter machine. If you hate yourself, you can follow me @MattBrownM2. We are free anywhere you get your podcast, so please, Apple, Spotify, Google, any of the other places as you could, your podcast. If you want to go in, hit pause right this second. Go down, takes two seconds, give us a little five-star review. Couple of little ratings, helps us climb the charts. We do appreciate that as well. We will see what’s going on with PointsBet Vermont, we’ll talk some Missouri, we’ll talk some Minnesota as well.
But Adam, this is some pretty big stuff right here because out of nowhere, pinch-hitting in the bottom of the ninth, somebody from the Astros or the Rangers or whoever it is came in and they might be getting the job done here, buddy, Texas coming out of nowhere.
Texas sports betting gains momentum
Adam Candee (01:09):
It’s a Yordan Alvarez shot into the seats in right field. The problem is they’re still down five. The Texas Legislature, the House particularly, did what we have not seen yet done in the state of Texas, which is give some form of approval to sports betting just this afternoon. In fact, just a couple of hours before we’re recording this podcast on Thursday, the Texas State House came up with the two-thirds majority that it needed to advance a resolution that would send sports betting to the ballot this November onto the Senate. Now, that is an enormous step. Let’s not sell it at all short. They had to take this vote multiple times to get to the point where they had the 100 votes that they needed. In fact, it was 97 yesterday. They came up with 101 today, and that puts them in position to move this on to the Senate.
Now, the Senate is expected to be the much tougher chamber to get the measure through, but considering where we were even two or three weeks ago with Texas sports betting where it felt like nothing was going to happen in this session, this is at least a major step forward in terms of the case that they can make from the lobbying side to legislators. If it doesn’t go this year, so be it, but you can come back in 2025 and you can have at least a chamber passage with two-thirds majority to lobby. Now, we’ve heard from the Senate side that Dan Patrick, lieutenant governor, who has a lot of sway in the Senate, has said that he needs to see bipartisan support in order for the measure to make the floor and get a vote. And remember, if the Senate approves this, it is just to send it to the ballot where it would also need a two-thirds majority because we’re talking about changing the Texas State Constitution.
Matt Brown (02:52):
Eric, this was something that as we were entering the season, it was … When I say the season, the legislative season over there in Texas, a ton of buzz. Then it’s kind of just went away for a little bit. It sounded, I’m not going to say it got swept under the rug, but certainly didn’t have the buzz it had whenever we got going over there. And then the news started coming out that it looked pretty bleak for everything. And again, this doesn’t say that anything’s going to actually happen here, but the fact that we did get this through to at least get to the Senate — step in the right direction, and who knows? I mean, this kind of rallied late to get done. So, I don’t know what your opinion is as far as how likely this is to actually get done, but I don’t guess it’s dead though.
Eric Ramsey (03:35):
Yeah, I think some of the rollercoaster we’ve been on just stems from the fact that we are monitoring every breath that Texas takes with this. We’re just watching it so closely that we have a chance to react to all of these small movements. This is a big movement today. In broad terms, I’m still pessimistic about the immediate chances for this in the near future. I agree with Adam. This is valuable as a lobbying tool for the future. My overall sense is that this is kind of the New York, we did this for a couple of years with New York where they got really close and there was a lot of chatter and maybe it was going to be in the budget, maybe this bill would do it and just never came together until it did. So, we’ll get there at some point, and obviously, you got to go halfway before you go the full way. So, having it through one chamber, obviously good for prospects this year and probably better for prospects in the longer term.
Matt Brown (04:26):
Adam, if we told people this a hundred different times, but if they’re joining us for the first time, legislature in Texas only meets every two years, so this is not something that could get done next year. The fact that they do only meet every two years, does that, at least in your opinion, however small the chance may be that this does actually get through. Does that increase just at least somewhat because there is at least somewhat of a sense of urgency because people are walking around and if they’re in favor of it, they’re telling, buddy XYZ and the person opposite them XYZ. They’re like, “Guys, it’s not like we can just do this next year. I mean, this is every-two-years type deal. This is still going to be more money funneling out of the state and black-market stuff, et cetera, et cetera.”
Adam Candee (05:10):
I think there are two schools of thought there, Matt. You can look at it that way and say that momentum is something that is fickle, and you need to use it while you have it. And if you can get some sort of rally going here at the very, very end of the Texas session, they go basically till the end of the month then yeah, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that you can get this through the Senate. We have no idea what sort of horse-trading would have to happen on the Senate side for that to occur. But it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. It is a significant underdog, and I mean like a 20-to-1 underdog for that to happen. Now, the other school of thought to this is that if you get the momentum going now that you can carry that forward to 2025, it’s not an easy thing to do.
You want to capitalize on what you have while you have it. But at the same time, it’s the sort of thing that if the House approves of this with the vote that it does, that lobbyists can take over to the Senate side, can take to Dan Patrick and take to Greg Abbott the governor and say, “Look, you want broad support, you want bipartisan support. Well, you have two-thirds of the House going for this, right?” And so that’s the sort of thing where you hope that maybe if it doesn’t happen this time around and we still think it’s a big underdog, but if it doesn’t happen this time around, what sort of horses could be traded to get sports betting through in a future legislature? What pet projects for someone? What other votes could be brought home on an issue that one side doesn’t like as much to get sports betting through? Because we have to keep in mind as much as we live and breathe all of this, when it comes to legislation about sports betting, about iGaming, daily fantasy sports, these are blips on the radar in your average state legislature.
Rumors grow of an imminent PointsBet sale
Matt Brown (06:58):
Eric, we have been talking a lot about PointsBet here lately on the podcast. It has come up with new different things here and there about every single week for us to talk about, and we are continuing and it kind of seems to be the scuttlebutt of the industry right now.
Eric Ramsey (07:12):
Yeah, we’re moving towards something. It feels like we’ve had this conversation, several podcasts over the last few months. It feels like PointsBet is approaching a sale. I think this came up in recent memory just a couple of weeks ago when we found out that they were working with an investment bank to actively shop their US assets. And now, we have this gaming conference going on in New Jersey right now that is, there is a lot of chatter on the floor. We’re hearing about the future of PointsBet, possibly an imminent sale. We’re hearing some potential suitors by name that may or may not materialize. But essentially what we gather from afar is that the whole room is talking about a PointsBet sale at SBC Americas. So, not always a good indicator of what’s happening. Sometimes it’s a feedback loop where we’re just amplifying the noise that we’re hearing, but again, for the third or fourth time, it seems like we’re moving toward a PointsBet sale.
Matt Brown (08:08):
Adam, we’re not a gossip column here on this podcast or anything, but I mean if there are credible rumors that are being floated about, I mean I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility for us to be able to at least comment on said rumors. Is there anything that you find interesting at least out there that has started to be, like I said, it’s kind of the scuttlebutt over there right now.
Adam Candee (08:29):
But we might not be Page Six from the New York Post, but we’re kind of page seven. You call us that. I think that’s fair to say. These are things that we’ve heard directly from the floor. Our Mike Mazzeo, Sam McQuillan, Jim Gazzale are all at that SBC conference. And what I find most interesting and what I find most illustrative is that they’re hearing different things, that it’s different rumors coming to different people. And to me in my years in PR and in journalism, that actually tells me that there’s more validity to the fact that something is coming than if it were just one rumor that we’re getting pushed around and that feedback loop that Eric was referencing, because that’s certainly a possibility when you get into these situations where it’s telephone tell a friend on the floor of SBC. But when it comes to what we are hearing, there are different pieces of the puzzle being put together by our guys on the floor.
So, we’ve discussed previously the possibility of a Fanatics purchase. I can tell you that has been floating around the floor. We have heard that it could be a smaller operator from somewhere in Europe, maybe someone we haven’t thought about necessarily that could be involved, but it definitely feels like this much where there’s smoke, there’s fire, there have been some folks on social media who are in the know, giving the wink, wink, nod, nod to I know something you don’t, but not really telling us anything. And we believe that more than likely that means that when you put together all of the chatter that’s been happening the past few weeks, we are probably fairly close to something going down.
Matt Brown (09:59):
Eric, with PointsBet. We know that we talked a little bit about this whole LSU, Alabama thing that was going on in the college baseball side of things, and we know that PointsBet is going to be leaving their deal with the University of Maryland. I do wonder if this is just the beginning of all, every single college deal just kind of getting dissolved. We kind of commented on it at the beginning of everything, where, was the juice really going to be worth the squeeze for these sportsbooks as it was anyway? And it seems like it didn’t take very long for people to start to realize it’s just really not.
Eric Ramsey (10:31):
There’s a couple left, and it’s almost to the point where they stand out as a little uncomfortable. I saw the SuperBook response on Twitter about their U Denver partnership that would’ve been fine six months ago, but just kind of read a little bit wrong in the current climate. I believe Caesars and LSU are still aligned, but yes, PointsBet has apparently wound down this partnership with Maryland effective at the end of last month. And seems like the trend whether by choice or by force that these college partnerships are probably going away in the future.
Matt Brown (11:07):
Adam, we talk a lot about the big states, of course, what was going on in California, Florida, Texas, because those are the ones that are really going to be a kind of seismic shift in the landscape of everything. But you know what? We’re inclusive. Everybody can play. And so, what about Vermont?
Adam Candee (11:22):
There are three things you need to know about Vermont. Here they go in order: maple syrup, Bernie Sanders, sports betting-
Matt Brown (11:30):
There we go.
Adam Candee (11:31):
Because it looks like we’re on the way here. The House has agreed to the Senate’s changes. The bill is on its way to Governor Phil Scott, who has said previously that he would sign sports betting legislation. So, looks like Vermont will be the next on the board that would make it 38 with some form of legislation for sports betting in the United States. And what we will see in terms of the model, it’s going to be interesting because our guy up there, Sam McQuillan, has been covering this closely, and heard that some of the bigger players might not get involved in Maine in particular.
They’re really not liking Maine. We’re not really sure that quite yet about Vermont, but it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. There’s a lot of revenue share stuff that’s still developing. It’ll be curious to see how interested they are in participating in that market. So, Vermont could have two or three apps. A law would allow for anywhere between two and six, but it’s one of these things where we’re talking about negotiating revenue share agreements with the state government for all of them. So, will it look like say a Rhode Island or a New Hampshire or one of these states that has chosen to use a single operator, whereas this would have multiple operators to be determined.
Missouri legislators are reading biographies
Matt Brown (12:54):
Eric, what about Missouri? It’s a state that is bordered by several different states that have legalized sports betting. So, what are we looking at there?
Eric Ramsey (13:03):
Yeah, Missouri has given a lot to us this session. It’s almost over. It ends tomorrow and we will … By the time you’re watching this podcast or listening to our voices, we probably should know the result in Missouri as it stands right now, looks like we’re pretty unlikely to get to the finish line because we have a senator filibustering the bills. Essentially, we have an obstructionist on the Senate floor who is blocking this from making progress. We have a couple bills that have cleared the House that are waiting action in the Senate, but this is Senator Denny Hoskins who is a sponsor of his own piece of legislation, which is not advancing, and what he really wants to do is get VLTs legalized in Missouri. That’s sort of his key issue that he’s been pushing this session, and he’s willing to essentially sabotage the sports betting bill to get it done.
We’ve seen this happen in a couple other states. This happened in your lovely state of Louisiana for a short while. So yeah, I mean, they’ve been on the floor today. This issue hasn’t come up yet. They’re reading Ronald Reagan’s biography. I think probably as we speak right now on the Senate floor in Missouri, sports betting may or may not see the light of day to begin with, and if it does just really, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to pass right now, and it’s frustrating. We talked about Texas has been at this a while, Missouri has been doing this really hard since 2018 with multiple bills every year and just have failed to get anything done. So, looks like in all likelihood, another disappointing end in the Missouri session.
Matt Brown (14:29):
Adam, as an aside here, I know people hear about this all the time, but this is a thing that does actually happen. I think people who don’t follow politics at all are really just kind of read headlines and stuff, don’t realize that this actually really does happen, but this is a thing that really does go down.
Adam Candee (14:47):
I’ll just give you a quick tour of a few states. Georgia still hasn’t passed anything, and two years ago when Georgia tried to pass sports betting legislation, this got caught up in a discussion of a voting rights bill that had nothing to do with sports betting, but it got caught between the political divide where one side was saying, “We’re not doing anything with that voting rights bill,” and the other side was saying, “We’re not doing anything with bills A through Z and sports betting was part of that.” Here in this situation, you have one senator who really wants to have these video lottery terminals, which are pretty much like slot machines, available all throughout the state.
He believes it’s going to help. Our Pat Evans had an interview with Denny Hoskins this week in which he said, basically, you can amend the bill to put video lottery terminals in, or you can make major changes because what you’ve done was amend an unrelated bill of his with sports betting language and seems like that could become a major problem. Eric talked about the fact that this happened in Louisiana. Video poker was part of the discussion in Louisiana for how that didn’t come about. So, this has been an ongoing developing situation. That’s what happens when you have 50 different states trying to come up with 50 different ways to leave your lover.
How horse tracks are shaping bill discussion in Minnesota
Matt Brown (16:10):
And you’ve got St. Louis right there on the border. Those guys are just making that trip over and over again. That money is leaving the state and will continue to leave the state, no doubt about it. Adam, what do we got going on in Minnesota?
Adam Candee (16:24):
Well, Minnesota is kind of in the same spot here where the horse tracks are sort of in the middle of this discussion where we’ve seen now an amendment introduced and it’s been moved through committee to try to include horse racing tracks, which a group of legislators carried up this water, felt like when the tracks said they felt like they wanted a piece of this, that it needed to be done, an amendment to try to carve out a certain percentage of revenue for the horse tracks, I believe it’s as much as 30% that could go to the tracks.
And why that is of note in Minnesota is because we pretty well had an agreement in place in Minnesota among most of the major stakeholders, those being the tribes and the pro sports teams and legislators for how this is going to be done. Because Minnesota is a state with tribal exclusivity over gaming, and we’re trying to bridge the gap here between the tribes and the tracks to see how can the tracks get some piece of this while still making the tribes feel like this is a bill that they want to go along with. Because it would not be the first time the tribal interests have said, this is not something we want when it comes to sports betting, and that legislation died. We’re thinking that it still has a chance. I would say it’s also now an underdog in Minnesota, maybe not as big an underdog as a bill that is stuck under a reading of Ronald Reagan on the floor of the Missouri Senate, but it is something that still has significant work left to do.
Matt Brown (17:52):
Eric, if Texas is a significant underdog here and Vermont looks like it’s going to be good to go, what are we looking at from a state count by your guesstimate here for the rest of 2023? And then as we move into 2024, is there something that you feel fairly strong about?
Eric Ramsey (18:10):
I got to look at the session calendars to see who’s even still making laws, but we might be done for the year. I don’t want to just proclaim that, but there’s really, apart from what we’ve discussed today, the underdog states … Adam must have something in mind because he’s raising a finger over there-
Adam Candee (18:27):
I can’t believe it. I cannot believe you of all people are not going to mention North Carolina.
Eric Ramsey (18:32):
Yeah, that’s true. As coming back on the floor, I believe all my … I have family in North Carolina, all my friends are very interested in this bill. Does look like we may have some movement on an online sports betting bill in North Carolina to complement the existing structure, but yeah, with the states we have pending, I think we’re 38 states. I’d be surprised if we managed to get that up to 40 by the end of the year.
Matt Brown (18:54):
I know there are a lot of people listening to this who are in Texas, and they are very upset to hear y’all say that it is a huge underdog ’cause I’m sure the headlines tomorrow morning when they wake up is going to be, “Passes!” It’s going to be like, it’s going to be painted positively, and they’re going to listen to this podcast and go, “Oh God, I hate Eric and Adam so much. Oh, I hate these guys.”
Eric Ramsey (19:14):
Sorry about that.
Matt Brown (19:14):
Just throwing cold water on-
Adam Candee (19:15):
Oh, what else is new?
Matt Brown (19:17):
That’s not true. Everyone loves you guys, including me, and I follow each of you on Twitter. You can do that for free yourself. If you want to go in Adam Candee, two E’s, no Y, and of course, Eric Ramsey over there. You can follow me, @MattBrownM2. Really and truly though, guys, if you hit pause and go down and just hit that little five-star, it takes one second, really does help us, and I do appreciate any support here, absolutely free. All the words of these stories we’re talking about over on legalsportsreport.com, so help Adam and team over there with getting the full scoop on everything at legalsportsreport.com. For Adam, for Eric. I’m Matt. Talk to you guys next week.