Bet-o O’Rourke? Texas Governor Candidate Backs Legal Sports Betting

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Texas sports betting

Democractic candidate for Texas governor Beto O’Rourke is apparently a legal sports betting proponent.

O’Rourke, a former presidential candidate, said this week he was “inclined to support” legal Texas sports betting.

More from Beto O’Rourke

O’Rourke told reporters at a news conference that expanded gambling could help the state’s finances:

“If we were to make legal casino gambling and sports betting in the state of Texas — which as you all know many Texans engage in now, it’s only that those revenues go to other states and to other state governments — we would be able to bring in billions of dollars more.

“And from listening to Texans from across the state, firstly, it’s a very popular proposal. And two, I think it would also help us to address some of the challenges we have in reducing inflation and property taxes in the State of Texas.”

O’Rourke said the issue warrants a “very close look.”

Does it matter for sports betting in Texas?

Of course, O’Rourke is still an underdog to get elected in November.

A recent poll showed him two points behind incumbent Governor Greg Abbott in the race.

In addition, no Democrat has been elected to statewide office in Texas since 1994.

Momentum for TX sports betting

That said, Texas sports betting might get done next year regardless of the governor. 

Abbott was reportedly a supporter of the 2021 effort. The Sports Betting Alliance, which represents teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks and Texas Rangers, said in February there was momentum for sports betting legalization next year.

“We are going to use this interim to have these conversations with lawmakers,” a spokesperson said. “We believe that the voting threshold is there to pass this law in 2023.”

Soft power

Those sports teams could also be the key to pushing legislation over the line in 2023.

For instance, Austin FC president Andy Loughnane told a conference in March that theCowboys were strongly behind the TX sports betting push. “They want to be on a level playing field with other NFL teams,” Loughane said.

Texas would instantly become one of the largest US sports betting markets, with 30 million residents and 11 major-league sports teams.

No gimme though

Of course there are still plenty of hurdles to clear.

The state’s second-ranking politician, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, is strongly against sports betting.

The state’s constitution would also need to be amended.