The Texas House of Representatives passed a sports betting bill yesterday, garnering 101 votes, one more yea than it needed to move on to the Senate for consideration.
The bill passed just before today’s deadline for the House. Both a sports betting and a casino bill were reviewed somewhat favorably but failed to reach the 100-vote threshold on Wednesday.
After further consideration, HJR 102 was again put up for a vote and attained 5 new yeas from Representatives that had opted out during the prior round.
Despite this positive step for sports betting in Texas, the bill does have its detractors, and the measure still faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
“This bill is not going anywhere. The Senate has not even given this a hearing. This is dead.”
Texas House Representative Matt Shaheen (Plano-R)
One element that is flipping votes is the existence of offshore sportsbook sites and their ability to accept gamblers located in TX over the Internet. Those dollars are not tracked, but seeing as TX is one of the most populated states in the nation, even the most modest estimates would be north of $500 million annually in total handle collected.
New York is currently the legal sports betting state with the highest population at just over 20 million people. Legal sports betting in NY took in over $146 million in revenue in January 2023, a month that features NFL Playoff games, the College Football Playoffs Championship Game, and regular season games from the NHL, NBA, and NCAA Basketball.
Pennsylvania has a population of 13 million and took in $39,250,402 in sports betting revenue this January. Texas has a population of 30 million people, with plenty of local pro and college sports to inspire them to action at the betting window.
The potential for heaps of sports betting revenue is what has the heat turned up so high in Texas. Lobbyists for domestic sports betting interests and even Texas-based professional teams have joined the battle, but there may not be enough time on the legislative clock before sine die.
The last day of the legislative session in TX is May 29th, and while there is potential for the Governor to call for a special session, the issue of sports betting is unlikely to be the catalyst.
If Texas lawmakers cannot come to an agreement regarding domestic sports betting before the end of session, the issue will be tabled until 2025, as the TX legislature meets every other year.