Patrick: No ‘Movement’ On Texas Sports Betting As Session Opens

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Texas sports betting

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told an Austin television station he did not “see any movement” on expanded gambling, including legalizing Texas sports betting, heading into the 2023 legislative session

Yet Patrick was not outwardly dismissive of the idea of legal TX sports betting, as he has been in the past. 

“I haven’t had anyone mention it to me, that they are interested in doing anything,” Patrick told KXAN of expanded gambling. “A lot of talk out there, but I don’t see any movement on it.” 

Where Patrick stands

In recent weeks, there had been industry rumblings that Patrick surprisingly could be willing to have a sports betting bill advance. 

Still, one industry source told LSR earlier this week that Patrick will need to give a “clear signal” that it needs to move this year.

“Otherwise you’re going to have a legislature that is not interested in pursuing something that isn’t blessed by the Lieutenant Governor,” the source said. “I think more work needs to be done to get a firm commitment.”

Gov. Abbott reportedly open to listening

Patrick is seen as possibly the biggest stumbling block in the process short of Gov. Greg Abbott. Patrick pushed back on gaming expansion efforts during the previous session in 2021. 

In October, however, Abbott expressed a willingness to listen on gaming proposals in an interview with the Houston Chronicle

“I haven’t seen any bills filed on it (by Republicans),” Patrick told KXAN. 

Abbott and Patrick both recently won re-election, which perhaps enabled their stances to soften. 

Who wants Texas sports betting

The Sports Betting Alliance, a lobbying conglomerate pushing to legalize and regulate online sports betting on behalf of sportsbooks and pro sports teams in Texas, recently hired former Gov. Rick Perry as a spokesperson. 

“I think that Texas is the next frontier,” lobbyist Bill Pascrell told LSR at the NCLGS conference in Las Vegas in December. “And I know what the lieutenant governor has said. But I also know the lieutenant governor is a very smart guy, and Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban, Tilman Fertitta and other owners not so well-known are working feverishly with the lieutenant governor. And with Gov. (Greg) Abbott — their session is coming up soon — I think that’s the next frontier.” 

Cuban has ideas of building a casino near his arena, as the state makes another attempt at legalizing Lone Star sports betting.

“I have not been working feverishly,” Cuban told LSR via email. “But there are organizations that are, for sure.” 

What’s next for Texas sports betting

Texas state legislative session kicked off today, Jan. 10, 2023

Any gaming legislation would change the Texas state constitution. Therefore it would require two-thirds votes in both chambers of the legislature, and then approval by voters via a simple majority at the polls in November

“Our next steps will be the bill filing itself, and announcing exactly the language, as well as the author,” SBA spokesperson Cara Gustafson said. “And due to how the legislature works, we likely won’t announce that — or even be at that stage — until late January, early February.”

In mid-November, Democratic Sen. Carol Alvarado pre-filed what was basically a vague casino bill. 

“I don’t think it’s a slam dunk by any means,” an industry insider said. “It’s a major state that’s going to take a major effort.”