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Texas Legal Sports Betting Debate Rages on as State Legislative Session Begins

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated January 30, 2023
8 min read
  • Two Main Camps Plus 75% of Texans in Favor of Expanding Gambling There

  • Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Values Group Pushing Back on Expansion

  • Sports Betting Already Happening in Texas, Proponents Hope to Regulate, Tax

Texas Legal Sports Betting Debate

Two Main Camps Plus 75% of Texans in Favor of Expanding Gambling There

It’s a story still searching for an ending, the legal sports betting issue in Texas getting heat from both sides during a contentious debate that could end up being settled by state lawmakers this session, that’s according to political reporter Patrick Svitek of The Texas Tribune.

One major stumbling block there has been that the Texas Legislature only meets every two years, making 2023 their first session to address this issue since their big push in 2021 failed to move forward, now with more vocal supporters rallying together to bring about that change.

According to the Texas Tribune, right now there are “two main camps pushing for expanded gambling in Texas” along parallel tracks – one a group of Vegas lobbyists that represent the Las Vegas Sands who hope to create “high-quality destination resorts in the state’s largest cities.”

The other pro-gambling expansion group is the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, a “coalition of professional sports teams … and betting platforms that is exclusively focused on legalizing mobile sports betting,” those big voices weighing in on how the state should handle gambling.

Add to those camps the 75% of Texans recently polled by the University of Houston who believe the voters should get the chance to weigh in on this critical issue, and according to Svitek the survey also identified 72% support among Republicans who typically oppose the expansion.

However, the opposition camp is also led by some big players.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Values Group Pushing Back on Expansion

The arguments against expanding gambling in Texas – worries of merely increasing corporate profits and exploiting the vulnerable and backing an unwinnable legislative fight - sound similar to the concerns used to fight the change to legal sports betting in other states.

One of the highest-ranking opponents of expanding gambling in Texas is Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate and who, according to the Texas Tribune, “continues to pour cold water on the idea,” an influential adversary who can easily sway other lawmakers.

Also pushing back on Texas gambling expansion is a group called Texas Values, a social conservative group whose policy director, Jonathan Covey, said in a statement:

“The expansion of gambling is already dead in the Texas Senate; and it would be a mistake for the Texas House to spend precious time on a policy matter that doesn’t have the votes to pass.”

The Texas Tribune quotes Rob Kohler, a lobbyist for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, who says he “really [doesn’t] see” any new momentum behind the cause, though it’s unclear from which soundproof cave he said that.

Because Texans are already gambling and could benefit from a regulated market.

Sports Betting Already Happening in Texas, Proponents Hope to Regulate, Tax

Legal sports betting in the U.S. is now a multi-billion dollar industry and to pretend that Texans are uninterested in that activity seems to be a disingenuous counterargument, especially given how much money is already spent by them using unregulated offshore mobile sportsbooks.

Former Governor Rick Perry knows this is true, now the spokesman for the Sports Betting Alliance, said in an interview:

“[Sports betting] is going on, it’s gonna continue to go on and the state of Texas needs to regulate it and make sure that its citizens’ information is protected.”

That could soon be decided by Texas lawmakers and voters, so keep checking back for all the latest news and updates on this unfolding story.

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Mike Lukas

1204 Articles

Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

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