Texas Sports Betting Bill Appears, But Don’t Hold Your Breath For Sportsbook Apps Soon

Texas sports betting 2019

Texans love their sports, so it only makes sense that Texas has joined more than half the country in introducing sports betting legislation.

Rep. Eddie Lucio III filed H 1275 to authorize sports betting operations, including mobile and online wagering, in the state.

The bill would require a referendum amending the state constitution to be approved by voters in November. To that end, Lucio also introduced House Joint Resolution 61 seeking to amend the constitution so that “the legislature by law may authorize and regulate the placing of wagers on professional and collegiate sports.”

The resolution must be adopted by a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate in order to be placed on the ballot.

As one of the most sports-centric states in the country, Texas would be the second-largest sports betting market in the US, according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming forecasts.

Details of the Texas sports betting bill

Lucio introduced comprehensive legislation with the following provisions:

  • Five total permits available, with two skins allowed per permit.
  • An allowance for mobile and online wagering.
  • Operators would be required to collect a 6.25 percent tax on handle, or total amount wagered. This tax would make it almost impossible to operate sports betting in the state, as it could very well outpace revenue generated.
  • Addressing a concern of the Wire Act, the bill addresses the intermediate routing of electronic data, specifying that sports betting transmissions must initiate and be received within the state.

Probably no sports betting in Texas soon

Any expansion of gambling has generated intense opposition in the Republican-controlled legislature for years. Casino and Texas fantasy sports bills have a long history of going nowhere. State law does allow for bingo, lottery and horse betting. There have also been bills in the past, even before the fall of the sports betting ban.

This bill is being sponsored by a Democrat, which is reason enough that it won’t pass. Gov. Greg Abbott, another Republican, also is on record opposing any expansion of legal gambling in Texas.

In 2015, Abbott asked state lottery officials to stop collecting information about potential sports betting games, saying that “state laws on gaming are to be viewed strictly as prohibitive to any expansion of gambling.”

In other words, the Dallas Mavericks have a better chance of trading for Kristaps Porzingis than this bill has of … wait, bad example. The Houston Texans will win their first Super Bowl before a sports betting bill sponsored by a Democrat passes in Texas.

Only New Mexico offers sports betting of Texas’ neighboring states.

Matthew Kredell
- Matthew began writing about legislative efforts to regulate online poker in 2007 after UIGEA interfered with his hobby of playing small-stakes online poker while working as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News. Covering the topic for Bluff Magazine, PokerNews and now Online Poker Report, he has interviewed four U.S. Congressmen and 20+ state legislators. His poker writing has been cited by The Atlantic, Politico.com and CNN.com. A freelance writer based in Los Angeles, Matt has written on a variety of topics for Playboy Magazine, Men's Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.