Texas Could Legalize Sports Betting in State by 2020

Legislators in Texas continue to propose sports gambling bills but are finding support difficult due to outside. influences and lobbying. But millions in possible revenue might keep Texas from saying "no" forever.

Texas Could Legalize Sports Betting in 2020, Despite Opposition

If there is one thing that is true in Texas, it is that lawmakers in the state do not like casinos.

Countless attempts over the years to bring casinos into the state have failed when proposed.

But with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to give the power back to the states, Texas has become a hotbed of discussion for legalized sports gambling.

With the stigma that sports betting has in the state, progressive lawmakers understand that hearts and minds will have to change to get wagering on sporting events legal in the state.

Two bills were recently introduced by Democrat Representative Eduardo Lucio that could bring sports gambling to the state by 2020.

But Rep. Lucio knows the bills don't have much of a chance to pass the Republican-controlled legislature, but that measures like these will have to be introduced for the conversation to change.

U.S. gaming expert, attorney Daniel Wallach, feels the more bills proposed, the more likely Texas could cave to outside pressure.

“I think the introduction of a bill like this starts the conversation, and while it may not end up on the ballot this year,” Wallach said.

“I think going forward, the prospects are promising for Texas because it's probably one of the most important markets for sports betting, probably a top 5 market.”

The proposed bills do have a unique wrinkle as each bet would be taxed 6.25% rather than a casino’s revenue.

But until sports betting is considered not to be an evil endeavor by the Texas Legislature then hope right now is on life support.

How are Casinos in Neighboring States Influencing the Texas Bill?

The biggest obstacle in the fight to get sports betting into Texas is coming from casino lobbying from other states.

Native American tribe run casinos in Oklahoma have been significant contributors to Texas legislators in an attempt to kill the sports betting bills proposed recently.

Reports suggest that two Oklahoma tribes, the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations, have given more than $5 million in donations to Texas lawmakers since 2006.

“The tribes have a major-league seat at the table," said Bill Pascrell III, a gambling lobbyist that seeks to legalize sports betting across all 50 states.

In a show of strength, the Native American-run casinos in Oklahoma flexed their muscle with the help of "America's Team."

The Dallas Cowboys recently joined into a partnership with the Oklahoma-based Winstar Casino, a gaming location that rests on the Oklahoma-Texas border along the Red River.

The agreement does not use the word "betting" in the contract but rather calls the Cowboys a "casino partner."

Other experts, including documentary filmmaker Bradley Jackson, creator of the Showtime docu-series "Action" about sports gambling in Las Vegas, believes Texas will adopt sports gambling soon.

“I don’t think Texas will necessarily do it right off the bat,” Jackson told Texas Monthly.

“But I think it in a couple years, when they see how much money there is to be made and that there are smart ways to go about it, it'll happen.”

With the amount of money that states like New Jersey are generating for their general funds, it is hard not to see Texas falling to internal pressure to create revenue via sports gambling.

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