Texas lawmakers are not giving up on sports betting legislation this session.
Two lawmakers filed bipartisan legislation this week that would legalize casinos and sports betting in Texas. HJR133 was filed in the House on Tuesday, with SJR49 filed in the Senate.
It’s the latest effort to expand legalized gambling in Texas, despite opposition from high-ranking politicians.
But the clock is ticking: the Texas legislative session runs to the end of May, then doesn’t return until 2023.
And of course, any bill to expand gaming must be approved by two-thirds of lawmakers before being put to a referendum.
What’s in the new legislation?
The new legislation is backed by Las Vegas Sands, meaning the primary focus is casinos.
As a result it’s pretty light on details for TX sports betting, other than just its legalization.
Another set of bills will lay out the specific regulations at a later date.
What does this mean for Texas sports betting?
On one hand, the new legislation shows the continued momentum around betting in the state.
However, the powerful local sports teams are backing different legislation.
The Sports Betting Alliance, which represents teams like the Cowboys, Mavericks and Rangers, said it was “focused solely on mobile sports betting legislation.”
A spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News: “However, several of our member teams and organizations may support these bills individually and any bills that give Texans the opportunity to decide if they want to regulate gaming in Texas.”
Can sports betting stakeholders agree on anything?
In fact, the new bills exemplify one of the problems facing the sports betting effort in Texas: too many stakeholders pushing in different directions.
As Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said in February:
“I’ve never seen anything like [the gambling lobby.] Usually there’s two sides to an issue. But there’s so much infighting and competition here. That’s why it never goes anywhere.”
Despite the Lieutenant Governor’s opposition, TX sports betting stakeholders are still optimistic.
Gaming lobbyist Bill Pascrell said Patrick’s boss, the governor himself, supported sports betting.
“I would put my money on Governor Abbott,” Pascrell said. “He’s a very powerful governor, who wants to do this and has been negotiating behind the scenes with teams and operators. This is a herculean task but I’m pretty optimistic about Texas.