The 2023 Texas State Legislature began on January 10th and will convene on May 29th. That gives TX lawmakers 12 weeks to consider and pass sports betting before sine die.
Three sports betting bills are now making their way through committee and appear poised for debate on the Texas House and Senate floors in the coming weeks.
HJR102 would authorize a state constitutional amendment, a measure that is required to open the door for legal sports betting in the state of Texas.
HJR84 is an additional amendment to the TX constitution allowing the Traditional Tribe of Texas to enter into a gaming compact with the state.
HJR97 is yet another amendment that would pave the way for real-money casinos with sports wagering included. This bill would create the Texas Gaming Commission, which would regulate all gambling and sportsbook operations inside the Lone Star State.
These three bills were referred to the State Affairs committee on Friday.
Governor Greg Abbott has adopted a somewhat favorable stance toward TX sportsbooks, but he is not as enthusiastic about local casinos and the games they could potentially offer.
While Abbott views sports betting as a form of entertainment, he feels that casino gambling largely involves games of luck where area citizens will simply throw their money away.
“We can’t have a system also that takes money out of the hands of people who need to be able to pay their bills and buy their food and have them lose out on gambling, where they then need to depend upon the state.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott
The lobbying push in Texas is strong, with backing from regional professional sports franchises like the Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and others.
At the moment, the state is mostly immune from bordering regions that offer domestic sports betting, but that could change soon. Many local gamblers opt for the legal sports betting options in Louisiana.
Bettors can travel across the border into LA and use their mobile sportsbook apps if they are at least 21 years old.
Arkansas also features mobile sports betting, but it isn’t terribly convenient unless you’re in the northwest part of the state.
The real threat at the moment is offshore sports betting sites that have been accepting members from inside of TX for over two decades. A loophole in state and federal law allows for gamblers in the USA to become members with sports betting sites that operate overseas.
This status applies to TX, and any money spent at these international venues is not taxed locally. The fiscal aspect is what will force legislators’ decisions on the matter, and it should.
Sports betting revenue totals posted around the country are impressive, especially when gambling apps are included. The population size of TX and the demand for sports betting is sure to haul in one of the largest handles in the country.
Now it just needs to be made legal.