Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently endorsed legalizing online Texas sports betting.
The endorsement is not exactly surprising. The Cowboys are part of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, a lobbying group comprised of pro sports teams and sportsbooks seeking to legalize online Texas sports betting.
“I think it’s really a thing that needs to be addressed at this time,” Jones said on the K&C Masterpiece radio show last week.
Texas legislative timeline
The Texas state legislative session runs from Jan. 10-May 29.
An online sports betting bill must be submitted by March 10. A spokesperson for the SBA told LSR it hopes to be able to make author and bill announcements in early February.
Any change to the state constitution requires a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers, and then simple majority approval by voters in November 2023.
Why Jones wants Texas sports betting
In explaining his reasoning, Jones cited that sports betting is already widespread, albeit not legally in the Lone Star State.
He also noted that tax revenue raised from online sports betting could mean lower property taxes and increased educational funding.
“All of those things can be enhanced by something that is presently going on in a big, big way, and we should be getting the benefit of it as citizens of Texas,” Jones said.
“Other states surrounding us are. So it’s a time I think for us to set the rules up and execute on it and get the benefits of it.”
Texas sports betting influence
In August 2022, Forbes valued the Cowboys at an NFL-best $8 billion.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg pegs Jones’ current net worth at $11.4 billion.
The Houston Chronicle reported in November that more than 300 lobbyists were registered to work on Texas gambling issues.
Lt. Gov. Patrick must be swayed
Still, any shot at legalization could hinge on whether Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick can be swayed to support a push. The recently re-elected LG is president of the state Senate.
So far, Patrick hasn’t said no in the issue like he has in the past. But he also hasn’t publicly endorsed legal online sports betting either.
Patrick is viewed as potentially the most significant roadblock in the process shy of Gov. Greg Abbott, though the Houston Chronicle reported Abbott is open to listening on gaming issues.
Patrick mum on Texas sports wagering
The Lieutenant Governor pushed back on gaming expansion efforts during the 2021 state legislative session.
“I haven’t had anyone mention it to me, that they are interested in doing anything,” Patrick told an Austin TV station about expanded gambling. “A lot of talk out there, but I don’t see any movement on it.”
One industry source recently told LSR that Patrick will need to provide “a clear signal” that he intends to move on the issue 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.”