The push to legalize Texas sports betting is revving back up ahead of a crucial legislative session.
The Texas Sports Betting Alliance sent out a release last week reminding Texans that NFL betting is not legal in the Lone Star State. An effort to legalize TX sports betting fell short in 2021.
Since Texas legislators meet on a biennium, 2023 will be the next opportunity to legalize sports betting. With that in mind, supporters are preparing for another push for legalization, knowing that failure means another two-year wait.
“The state should allow Texans the freedom to decide whether or not to participate in sports betting and protect those who do so,” Texas Sports Betting Alliance Spokesperson Cara Gustafson said in a release. “Football will continue to dominate the Lone Star State and sports betting will only grow along with it. It’s time to honor Texas’ core value of individual freedom and legalize sports betting.”
Texas sports betting path
In 2021, there were multiple legislative efforts to legalize TX sports wagering. Rep. Dan Huberty’s HB 2070 appeared to have the most momentum but stalled out near the end of the session.
Because the Texas constitution largely prohibits gaming of any kind, sports betting will need to go to the voters regardless of legislative action. Huberty’s bill would have set up guidelines for the industry before the public voted on the issue.
There was also legislation put forward to simply place the issue on the 2022 ballot. That push also failed but supporters believe Texas sports betting made progress in 2021.
Off-year work in Texas
Gustafson told LSR this summer the crowded 2021 session was always a long shot, but that supporters have kept working with the momentum throughout this year.
She hopes to start 2023 with all “their ducks in a row” and focused, with a stable of House support already in hand.
“We’ve done a lot of great educating and even though we’re not in session, there was still a lot to talk about,” she said. “We’ve made sure to sit down with leadership and certain players to understand their questions and ask, ‘What would it take to get you to vote with us?’”
Lone Star support for sports betting
The professional sports teams in Texas help make up the Texas Sports Betting Alliance and many of them already entered sportsbook partnerships. Sports wagering-related partnerships in Texas include:
- Austin FC — PointsBet
- Dallas Mavericks — Betway
- Houston Dynamo — Fubo Sportsbook
- Houston Astros — BetMGM
Gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke supports sports betting, a strong contrast to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on the incumbent side. Gov. Greg Abbott does not oppose it as strongly as Patrick.
Texas legislators were among a bipartisan group of lawmakers to send a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland to crack down on offshore sportsbooks.
Texas sports betting potential revenue
An estimated 2 million illegal bets are placed each year in the Lone Star State, according to the Sports Betting Alliance. Those bets account for $8.7 billion in wagers.
Texas would likely be among the top US markets, as its population is 29.5 million people. That is nearly 10 million more than New York, where bettors have placed more than $10 billion in wagers since launching mobile sports betting in January.
The Sports Betting Alliance estimates the first biennium with legal sports betting could generate up to $278 million in sports betting revenue. That could rise to $556 million in future bienniums.