Texas Sports Betting Path Still Difficult For 2025, Stars President Says

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Texas sports betting

The Lone Star State is approximately one year away from taking another crack at legalizing Texas sports betting. 

Last session, a pair of Texas sports betting bills moved out of a House committee for the first time, before ultimately dying quickly in the Senate

However, legislative dynamics have not changed, and passage remains a difficult proposition in 2025 according to one key stakeholder.

Passage is ’50-50 at best’

Dallas Stars president Brad Alberts, in a Tuesday interview with LSR, put the odds of passage at “50-50 at best.” 

“I think it’s in the same spot it was. The same challenges exist, which is a resistant Senate, led by the Lieutenant Governor (Dan Patrick). And I don’t think that that has changed. Obviously, those same personalities are still in office,” Alberts told LSR. “I think the momentum of last session, getting it through the House is positive. But you still have to get it through the Senate.” 

Biggest Texas sports betting obstacle

Patrick, who maintains an anti-gambling stance, has been seen as the biggest stumbling block in the process.

Patrick has said that the Senate does not want expanded gambling, and that he would never sponsor a bill that was not Republican-led. However, industry sources previously told LSR that is code for the Lieutenant Governor not wanting it himself. 

“It really comes down to convincing 12 Republican Senators to say they want this,” one industry source told LSR. “Patrick has to respond to the interest of the caucus. And it’s going to be incumbent upon not only the lobbyists but the public in Texas that wants sports betting to engage with those Senators and tell them this is something that they want.”

Could Trump win mean better shot?

A second industry source postulated that the best chance of 2025 passage would be for Donald Trump to win the presidential election. Trump could then bring Patrick, who is in office through 2026, into his cabinet.

That would allow for a new Senate leader in the Lone Star State. 

“I think the tack is that lobbyists have to get the Senate, and the Senators behind this, instead of worrying about the House,” Alberts said. “I think they have to spend a lot of time … the Lieutenant Governor needs to hear from his base, which is the Republican Senators in the Senate, that this is something they want. If he doesn’t, I don’t believe that he’s going to be persuaded to be in favor of it.” 

DraftKings, MGM execs more bullish

A pair of sportsbook executives, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins and BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt, are more optimistic about a legislative push in Texas. 

“I think Texas has a real shot,” Robins said during a May earnings call. “(A sports betting bill) got through one chamber last year. The Texas legislature doesn’t meet in 2024 so we’re really gearing up for 2025.”

“California is not in our near-term model, Texas is,” Greenblatt said in March at the iGaming Next Conference

Reeg: ‘I’m not optimistic on Texas …’

A poll conducted by the non-partisan Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation said 47% of likely voters support legalizing online sports betting. 

Caesars CEO Tom Reeg, however, was more pessimistic than his contemporaries in a recent speech at the East Coast Gaming Congress

“Given the political environment there and a legislature that meets every other year, I’m not optimistic on Texas anytime soon,” Reeg said. 

Teams want legal Texas sports betting

The hope in the sports betting industry was always that key stakeholders with the professional sports teams in Texas would apply enough pressure to legislators to get it over the hump. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been most vocal in support of a sports betting push. 

The Stars (ousted in the Western Conference Final) and Mavericks (NBA Finals) made deep playoff runs, while Texans are left to seek out local bookies or illegal offshore sites to place their wagers. 

“I think it’s high,” said Alberts, who would be in favor of adding an in-person sportsbook if legislation allows, of teams’ appetites to get this done. “I think all the teams that have really been part of the Sports Betting Alliance now for 4-5 years — two sessions — I think if you asked every one of the presidents they would say, ‘Yeah, we want to try to get this done.’ We certainly see it as an economic opportunity for our business, but also a fan engagement (opportunity).

“And certainly those have been the two major talking points that we’ve had with the politicians now for years on this issue. So it’s overwhelmingly that the teams are in favor of it for sure.” 

Player education evolving on sports betting in Texas

Alberts was asked about how the Stars handle player education in a market that is still not legal. There have been several betting scandals involving players in North American professional sports leagues.

“The league does a little bit, and I think the PA (Players’ Association) certainly talks to these guys about gambling and what they can and can’t do,” Alberts said. “If this thing becomes more real in the state, then certainly it’ll be something that the organization will embrace and adopt as kind of a compliance issue that we will certainly talk to the team about each year.” 

Photo by Ap/Emil T. Lippe